The economy has been transferred from life support to intensive care. Things are getting better, or at least they're not doing as bad as they were.
So says the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council in its latest update.
Better but “the damage to the economy from the Great Recession continues to linger.” Better but “frustratingly slow” and “positive but anemic.”
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Nationwide, the gross domestic product grew at 2 percent in the third quarter, a bit better than the 1.7 percent in the second quarter.
Consumer spending growth improved to an annualized rate of 2.6 percent from 2.2 percent.
October showed a net gain of 159,000 jobs, offset by the loss of 8,000 public-sector jobs. The unemployment rate remained at 9.6 percent.
In Washington, the private sector added 4,200 jobs in the third quarter, while state and local governments shed 5,200. So, said the forecast, “we expect the job picture to remain weak through the remainder of 2010 and then to improve gradually in 2011.”
Construction employment lost 4,000 jobs during the first three quarters of 2010 – bad, but miles ahead of the 30,000 lost during the same period of 2009.
The outlook for aerospace jobs “for 2011 and beyond is positive,” while “the state’s software sector has returned to growth.”
In terms of revenue collections in Washington:
General Fund revenues from Oct. 11 through Nov. 10 were $18.3 million, or 1.6 percent above the September forecast.
Revenue Act collections of $11.6 million were 1.2 percent below the prediction for the same period, but were 5.5 percent above the figure for 2009.
With the business and occupations tax increase from 1.5 percent to 1.8 percent as of May 1 – and with a sales tax on candy and bottled water – Revenue Act receipts were ahead by approximately $23 million per month.
Payments from the vehicle and parts sector were up 14.7 percent year-over-year, with other increases seen in apparel and accessories, up 18.9 percent; gas stations and convenience stores, up 7.7 percent, and general merchandise stores up 6.9 percent.
Declines appeared in building materials and garden equipment, down 2.3 percent; sporting goods, toys, books and music, down 1.2 percent, and furniture and home furnishings, down 0.8 percent.
Credit a new 91.4-cents-perpack tax increase on cigarettes for tobacco tax receipts that climbed $2.5 million, or 8.2 percent, and are up 42.8 percent year-over-year.
And credit whatever benefit alcohol may provide in difficult times for a 5.4 percent, or $816,000, increase over the previous forecast for liquor tax receipts.