Northeast Arkansas’ hub city and its home county are experiencing the longest sales tax and use growth pattern in history.
Jonesboro collected $1.413 million in sales and use taxes during the month of April, a 10.15% ($130,218) increase from 2018, according to numbers released by the city. Through the first four months of the year, the city has collected $6.406 million, a 7.66% uptick from the first four months of 2018.
When compared to the budgeted amount for April, the numbers are slightly down, but remain on a record pace for the year. City lawmakers had an anticipated sales and use tax haul of $1.493 million, meaning the budget projection for the month is down 5.33% ($79,611) for the month. The city has collected $258,448 more than budgeted since the beginning of the year, a 4.2% increase.
Craighead County has experienced similar sales and use tax growth. The most populous county in Northeast Arkansas collected $1.559 million in taxes during April, a 7.67% ($111,000) increase from the same month in 2018, according to the Craighead County Treasurer’s Office. For the year, the county has collected about $7 million, a 7.3% ($483,000) increase from the same period in 2018.
Sales and use tax collections have a 60-day lag time, meaning the numbers in March represent taxes collected on sales in January, which is typically the highest collection month of the year for the city. Jonesboro serves as a hub in Northeast Arkansas drawing consumers from many outlying counties.
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, and 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 had 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, trailing only Little Rock.