Sales tax collections in Jonesboro surge to all-time monthly high

by George Jared ([email protected]) 378 views 

During a decade-long era when sales tax collections have been a boon to the city of Jonesboro and Craighead County, the month of May turned into one of the best months ever recorded for the largest city and county in Northeast Arkansas.

Jonesboro collected $2.108 million in city sales and use tax, a whopping 33.5% ($525,816) increase from May of 2020, according to figures released by the city. The percentage increase is the largest in a single month recorded by the city in modern times.

The uptick was partially attributed to the decline in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic surged causing many businesses, schools and other public offices to shutter. Recent stimulus payments to individuals and businesses also contributed to rise in sales tax collections, according to officials.

For the year, Jonesboro has collected $9.060 million in sales and use taxes. That’s a 9.6% ($792,511) upswing from 2020 which set the city’s all-time record for collections. The city is 8.9% ($740,357) ahead of budget through the month of May.

It came after a rare month in April that saw sales tax collections actually drop by about 5.5%. Civic leaders have cautioned for months that sales tax collections numbers could be volatile when compared to certain months in 2020 when the pandemic first hit and there were varying degrees of businesses shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Sales tax numbers lag by 60 days meaning the numbers released were collected two months prior. Economists consider sales tax collections as a leading economic indicator, one that can show how a local economy can be expected to perform in the short-term.

Craighead County has had a similar collection pattern this year. In May, the county collected $2.4 million in sales and use taxes, a nearly 30% increase from the previous May. For the year, Craighead County is up about 9% from the same time period in 2020.