Jonesboro, Craighead County could set sales tax record for second consecutive year

by George Jared (gjared@talkbusiness.net) 208 views 

Downtown Jonesboro.

If historical sales and use tax collections are true to form in December, the city of Jonesboro and Craighead County will set records for the second consecutive year.

Jonesboro collected $1.504 million in city sales and use tax, a 6.2% ($87,839) increase from November in 2016. Through November, the city has collected $16.369 million, a 2.96% ($471,159) increase from the first 11 months of the previous year. Craighead County collected $1.696 million in county sales and use tax in November, a 3.9% ($65,000) increase as compared to the same period the previous year.

To date, $18.356 million has been collected, an almost 3.8% increase as compared to the 11 eight months in 2016. The collections in the county and city set all-time collection records through November.

“It’s always good to be ahead of where you were last year,” Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said previously.

He noted the city is more than $900,000 in front of 2016 sales tax collection pace when the city’s portion of the countywide sales tax is added to the total.

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 September. The city’s rate is 2.8%, three-tenths of point drop from August, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The rate is half a point lower than it was in January. In April, the city recorded its all-time lowest rate at 2.5%. The civil labor force has declined 2.2% since July to 37,981.

Craighead County mirrored its seat. The county’s unemployment rate is 2.8%, a two-tenth of a point drop from August. For the year, the county’s rate has dropped six-tenths of a point. Craighead County has 53,933 civilian laborers, a less than 1% drop during the last two months.

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