State government’s coffers grew by $36.1 million more than predicted over the past month, according to the May 12 revenue collections report by Washington’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. The growth in revenue came despite weaker than expected growth in jobs and home-construction activity.
The boost in revenues from April 11 to May 10 was 2.9 percent above the Feb. 19 forecast. Top state forecaster Steve Lerch’s monthly report said that brings the total revenue increase above the forecast to $61.8 million so far. Of that, $37.9 million of that due to one-time payments that had not been incorporated into his quarterly forecast.
The good news has no real effect on state budgets, which were adopted last year for 2013-15 and then were adjusted upward in the supplemental budget adopted in March - adding about $60 million for K-12 schools and making many other relatively small changes. But the extra cash does pad the state's reserves, in case lawmakers need extra money next January to cover wildfires or some other emergent expense.
The new revenue report has a few details about the continued slow recovery of jobs after the Great Recession. It says 12,800 jobs were added in Washington since the February revenue forecast. That was 2,100 jobs less than the forecast predicted but the report noted growth in several sectors including service, construction and manufacturing during the year’s first three months. There also was a gain of 1,100 public-sector jobs over the past three months in state and local governments.
On housing, the report said a shortfall in single-family residential construction was “made up for by stronger than expected multifamily activity.’’ It said Seattle housing prices continue to climb and have for each of the past 24 months. Although Seattle home prices in February were 12.8 percent on average above prices in February 2013, they remain 14.1 percent below the peak in 2007.
In a bit of a twist, Lerch also reported on per capita income and the purchasing power of Washington residents. He said the state's per capita income of $46,000 in 2012 was about 5.3 percent above the national average, based on federal Bureau of Economic Analysis data, but the cost of living was 3.2 percent higher (mainly due to housing costs). The upshot is that purchasing power in the Evergreen State was about 2.1 percent higher than in the country as a whole.
The next revenue forecast is scheduled for 10 a.m. June 18 in Olympia.