Tri-Cities retail sales tax collections up in Jan.; slow-growth trend stable

The Tri-Cities retail sales tax collection trend was higher in January, and both Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) continued a stable, slow-growth pattern. That was in opposition to the rest of NE Tennessee. Knoxville’s trend line made a noticeable one-month drop. Morristown also dipped, but not as much as Knoxville.

A monthly report on seasonally adjusted collections from the Business and Economic Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University show Johnson City MSA collections were 4.1% higher than last year while they were up 2.5% in Kingsport-Bristol.  The Johnson City MSA’s economy has produced a year-over-year growth rate that’s almost double the Kingsport-Bristol trend for the past two months. The collections trend for the two MSAs have paralleled each other since August. The only variation in that six-month pattern was November when Kingsport-Bristol collection spiked above the pattern.

Although the Johnson City growth rate is stronger, Kingsport-Bristol continues claiming the top share of retail sales and sales tax collections. Johnson City’s total collections are slightly more than 48% of the region’s total in January.

Month-over-month collections, which show bigger swings than year-over-year tracking, tell an opposing story. Kingsport-Bristol collections increased by 1.2% from December while the Johnson City MSA declined by 0.4%. Lower spending in January is normal after the holiday sales boom.

According to Gallup consumer spending reports, “while there was a marked drop in Americans’ self-reported spending in January compared with December, last month was one of the highest January spending figures in the nine-year history of Gallup’s tracking. This may be attributed to a healthy job market, rising economic confidence and an overall improving economy.

“Rising stock values may also be helping Americans feel better about their finances, at least for those who own stock. With December breaking the $100 mark for average daily spending and an expected rebound in February through the spring, consumer spending in 2017 may be poised to reach even higher levels. If that occurs, it could jump-start economic growth in the country, because consumer spending accounts for the lion’s share of the U.S. gross domestic product.”

January year-over-year Tennessee collections were higher in all but one MSA. Cleveland declined.

Month-over-month collections were up in all MSAs except Johnson City.