Sales-tax collections increased throughout the Mahoning Valley in January, keeping pace with inflation and demonstrating an improving regional economy since last year.
The most recent local data, released for January by the Ohio Department of Taxation, is delayed because of a 60-day turnaround required for merchants to report the figures and for the department to process the funds and dole them out to the state and its counties.
Sales-tax collection rose year-over-year by more than 2 percent in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. In Columbiana County, collec- tions rose by less than 1 percent. The growth is consistent with weekly data on new unemployment claims, said Cleveland-based economist George Zeller. They’ve been lower here than in other parts of the state — leaving consumers on better financial footing and with more discretionary spending power.
“The recent layoff data have been positive in the Mahoning Valley,” Zeller said. “We continue to see a recovery in the Mahoning Valley that is better than the recovery elsewhere in Ohio.”
Job growth in the Youngstown-Warren area has outpaced other urban centers across the state, Zeller added.
In January, Mahoning County collected $3.2 million in sales tax, up 2.3 percent from the same time in 2012 when the county collected about $3.1 million.
Trumbull County saw a similar increase, collecting $2.4 million at the beginning of the year, versus $2.3 million in January 2012, about a 2 percent increase.
In Columbiana County, sales-tax collection edged up slightly going from $1,488,009 in January 2012, to $1,497,249 last January.
When price increases and inflation are factored into the figures, each county collected nearly 1 percent more in sales tax than the previous year.
An increase in the sales- tax collection is generally considered a good sign for businesses and consumers, as well as the counties that benefit from the revenues they generate.
Zeller said it signals economic growth throughout the region, which continued from last year, when sales-tax figures were up for most of 2012, driven in part by moderate economic growth and more sales activity from oil and gas drilling.
According to the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, the nonauto sales tax again exceeded projections in March with total receipts of $532.7 million, exceeding the office’s previous estimate by $4.3 million.
Statewide in January, the OBM reported a $26.1 million shortfall between its projections and actual receipts.