Area sales tax growth still on record-setting pace, but slower in May

by George Jared (gjared@talkbusiness.net) 91 views 

Sales and use tax growth through the first five months of 2019 is still on a record setting pace in Craighead County and its seat, Jonesboro, but that pace slowed during the month of May. The city collected $1.551 million in sales tax during the month, slightly less ($5,794) than was collected in May 2018, according to the city.

For the year, the city has tallied $7.957 million in sales and use tax, a 5.99% increase ($450,050) from the first five months of 2018. If the collections continue, it could set an all-time collections record in the city.

The actual tally may have been a slight decline in May, but it was still more than 8% ($117,776) above budget by city leaders for the month. To date, Jonesboro is 4.96% ($376,224) ahead of the projected collections that were tabulated before the year began.

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.

Craighead County sales and use tax collections continued to mirror Jonesboro’s in the month of May. The county collected $1.737 million in May, a slight increase ($80,000) from the collections in May 2018. For the year, the county is up 7.4% ($563,000).

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.

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