Sales tax collections in Jonesboro declined in September as compared to the same month in 2016, but overall, Northeast Arkansas’ hub city is still on pace to set an all-time collections record through the first nine months of the year. The city collected $1.396 million in city sales and use taxes last month, a 5.42% drop ($80,044) from the same month in 2016. To date, the city has reeled in $13.363 million in city sales and use taxes this year, a 2.16% ($282,328) increase from last year. In 2016, the city collected a record-setting $17.326 million in sales tax receipts.
Craighead County suffered a similar decline in September. The county took in $1.555 million in sales and use taxes last month, a 7.8% drop from the same month in 2016. To date, the county has collected $14.979 million, a 3.5% increase from the same nine month period in 2016.
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.
The city continues to have near-record lows in unemployment rates. Jonesboro had a rate of 3.1% in August, down from the 3.3% rate it had to start the year. It hit its all-time low water mark of 2.5% in April. The civilian labor force in the city has grown by 5.5% to 38,040. The number of unemployed workers fell 2.5% to 1,163. The number of employed workers in the city has risen 5.9% to 36,877 workers.
Craighead County’s unemployment rate was 3% in August, a four-tenths of a point drop from the first of the year. The county also set its record low mark for unemployment when it hit 2.5% in April. The civilian labor force grew 5.4% to 54,065. The number of unemployed workers declined by 7.4% to 1,609.
The U.S. unemployment rate is 4.2%, while Arkansas has a rate of 3.5%. It was announced Friday that the U.S. lost 33,000 jobs in September, the first time the jobs market experienced a decline in jobs in seven years. Rates are not seasonally adjusted.