The Politics Blog

State forecaster: Tax revenues still top forecast but shutdown hitting consumer confidence

OlympianOctober 15, 2013 

Steve Lerch

ECONOMIC AND FORECAST COUNCIL

The latest revenue collections report for state government shows Washington continued to take in more money over the past month than even in the most recent quarterly forecast had predicted in September. After adjusting for the effect of an expected tax refund yet to be paid out, the real gain is about $9.8 million to the state’s bottom line.

Steve Lerch, executive leader of the Office of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, issued the monthly report on tax collections late last week, and his message carried a hint of worry despite the uptick in revenues.

“The impact of the federal government shutdown and concerns about the debt ceiling debate are unlikely to be fully reflected in these September figures,” Lerch wrote. He noted the federal government shutdown has idled thousands of government workers who ultimately will get back pay, but he also said consumer confidence has slipped.

Lerch cited the Conference Board’s index on consumer confidence, showing it had a reading below 80 for the first time since May.

The collections period in the report was from Sept. 11 to Oct. 10 – which included the first 10 days of the shutdown that began Oct. 1.

As for specifics on tax receipts, Lerch said collections in the major general-fund tax accounts were $32.3 million higher than what he’d forecast in mid-September. But the net gain was $9.8 million for government after he accounted for a $22.5 million tax refund that hadn’t yet been made as scheduled but is expected to be entered. Overall, the uptick in revenues was less than 1 percent higher than predicted for the month.

Lerch also reported job growth equal to about 11,400 positions over the past three months, most in the private sector. Just 2,200 of the jobs were in construction, which has been the top growth sector for employment over the past year. 

Despite job gains, the seasonably adjusted jobless rate was 7 percent in Washington in August, just below the 7.3 percent national rate – according to this state chart. Things were better at 6.7 percent in Thurston County and worse at 7.7 percent in Pierce County.

New data are due after the government shutdown is ended.

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