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Washington revenue collections were down in March, though recovery still on track

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on April 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
April 12, 2010 5:18 pm

Maybe the Legislature should get out of town before things get worse.

The state economic and revenue forecast council released its March revenue update this afternoon and the numbers are mixed with tax collections down again but the economic recovery still on track.

The forecast, prepared by state economist Arun Raha and his staff, expresses confidence in the February forecast that was used to write revisions to the state budget. But actual collections are still down and for the second straight month.

The numbers aren’t enough to cause problems with the budget but could become troublesome if they continue. The forecasters use actual tax collections as a measure of the accuracy of their predictions.

Major general fund state tax collection were down about 3 percent for the month or $24.6 million. Over the two months since the last official forecast, this category of taxes is down a total of $34.3 million.

But Raha’s basic estimate that the recovery is underway is unchanged.

“The recent state economic data continue to support our view that the state‚Äôs economy has turned the corner and is expanding,” the update says.

On jobs, the update claims: “We remain comfortable with our February forecast which predicted an upturn in jobs in the first quarter.”

On consumer spending: “Consumer spending appears to be coming back. Washington new car and truck registrations in March 2010 were up 9.5% over March 2009. This was the fourth consecutive year-over-year increase in new registrations.”

On housing: “We remain comfortable with our February forecast which predicted an upturn in jobs in the first quarter. New housing construction in the state fell 3,700 in February to 20,200 units according to the building permit data. However, the decline was all in the volatile multi-family sector.”

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