Written by by George Jared
Craighead County and its seat, Jonesboro, continue to exhibit steady economic growth as 2016 nears its end. Jonesboro has collected $15.898 million in city sales tax through November, a 4.8% increase from the same time in 2015, according to the city.
The city’s all-time record for tax receipts collected is $16.591 million set in 2015.
Jonesboro collected $1.416 million in November, up 3.98% from the previous November. City officials anticipated $16.777 million would be collected in 2106, and the collections are still 3.3% ahead of that projection, according to the city.
“We’re growing just about every month,” Jonesboro city accountant Mike Burroughs told Talk Business & Politics. “We’re outpacing the state.”
A combination of factors including the area’s broad jobs diversity, steady population growth, an overall improved economy, and others have led to the positive sales tax growth, Burroughs said. Sales tax collections are usually a leading indicator of the economic health of a community, he said.
Craighead County’s sales tax collections this year are near a record. The county has collected $17.733 million through November, a 5.4% increase from the previous year when a record $18.411 million was tallied, according to the Craighead County Treasurer’s Office.
Sales tax numbers are not the only positive economic indicators in the city and county.
Jonesboro began 2016 with a 3.9% unemployment rate. It dropped to 3.2%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Unemployment rate tabulations are upon how many people have sought a job within the last 30 days which can sometimes screw the actual percentage of people who don’t have jobs. Numbers released have not been seasonally adjusted.
In January, the city had 34,536 employed workers. It had grown to 35,900, an almost 4% increase through the end of September. The number of unemployed workers in the city has also dropped from 1,404 in January to 1,183 by September, an almost 16% decline.
Craighead County experienced a similar jobs increase this year. In January the county had a 3.9% unemployment rate that dropped to 3.1% by the end of September. At least 49,396 workers had jobs in the county at the start of the year, and the number grew to 51,348 by September, a 3.9% increase, according to the Department of Labor.
The U.S. unemployment rate in October remained a steady 4.9%. During the last year, the nation’s rate has hovered near the 5% mark, according to figures released. Arkansas’ rate in October was 4%, and it has dropped eight-tenths of a point in the last year, according to the Department. Mississippi County in Northeast Arkansas still has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 6.7%.