Mahoning Valley sales-tax collections were up slightly through the first six months of this year, indicating modest economic growth as consumers here continue to spend at a steady pace on things such as vehicles, electronics, clothing and other retail goods.
From January through July, $34,544,498 has been collected in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, according to the latest data available from the Ohio Department of Taxation. When adjusted for inflation, that’s a 0.6 percent improvement from the same time last year.
“This is a clearly favorable set of figures, except in Trumbull County. But, the increase is a very slow 0.6 percent in the Valley,” said Cleveland-based economist George Zeller. “This is consistent with our findings from other data that finally establish that the job market is finally growing in both the U.S. and in Ohio. That growth caused the increase in the sales-tax collections, and thus in local retail sales.”
Trumbull County’s sales-tax collections have fallen off this year, down 0.9 percent through the first six months when adjusted for inflation. In Columbiana County, where oil and gas drilling is dense, sales-tax collections increased by 2.8 percent at the same time. Mahoning County, meanwhile, recorded an increase of 0.6 percent.
Statewide, according to the Ohio Office of Management and Budget, nonauto sales and use tax totaled $602.4 million and were 3.2 percent below the latest estimates.
Auto sales have soared across the state and the country this year, with analysts projecting that 16 million units will be sold by year’s end — a pace not seen since before the Great Recession. In Ohio, auto sales-tax receipts, which are calculated separately, totaled $111.5 million and were almost 10 percent higher than the latest estimate reported by the office of management and budget earlier this month.
“We’re getting growth. It’s slow, but slow growth is better than no growth at all,” Zeller said. “A big factor right now in sales-tax collections is the auto sales, which are particularly good for the Mahoning Valley with Lordstown and some of the suppliers there.”