Record economic growth continued in Craighead County and its seat, Jonesboro, during August according to sales tax receipts and unemployment figures.
Jonesboro collected $1.543 million in city sales and use tax, a 4.54% ($67,053) increase from the same period in 2016. Through August, the city has collected $11.966 million, a 3.12% ($362,373) increase from the first eight months of the previous year.
Craighead County collected $1.746 million in county sales and use tax in August, a 6% ($100,000) increase as compared to the same period the previous year. To date, $13.424 million has been collected, an almost 4% increase as compared to the first eight months in 2016. The collections in the county and city set all-time collection records for August.
In 2016, the city collected an all-time record $17.326 million in sales tax receipts, a 4.43% increase from 2015. Since 2012, the city’s sales tax base has grown by 15.3%. Craighead County collected $19.372 million in county sales tax last year, a 5.2% increase from 2015. The total is also an all-time mark in the county. Since 2010, the county’s sales tax receipts have grown from $15.599 million, a 24% spike.
Civic leaders, economists, and others have competing theories as to why Northeast Arkansas has experienced consistent economic growth during the last four decades. The region’s diverse jobs base – agriculture, food processing, health and medical, Arkansas State University, professional services – have had an insulating effect, but economic gains are also tied to population growth.
Since the early 1970s, Jonesboro has grown by about 3% each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As of 2016 the city has about 76,000 residents. Jonesboro was the fifth largest city in Arkansas based on population in the 2010 census. The city is the second largest in terms of geographic size, only trailing Little Rock.
Jonesboro continued to have a low unemployment rate through July. The city’s rate is 3.3%, one-tenth of point higher than in June, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The rate is the same as it was in January. In April, the city recorded its all-time lowest rate at 2.5%. The civil labor force has grown this year by 7.9% to 38,852.
Craighead County mirrored its seat. The county’s unemployment rate is 3.2%, a one-tenth of a point jump from June. For the year, the county’s rate has dropped two-tenths of a point. Craighead County has 53,469 civilian laborers, an 8% uptick since January.