Phoenix, AZ – We have new figures this afternoon of what the state is collecting in taxes. The numbers, which reflect consumer spending, are far below projections as shoppers, anxious about the economy, are keeping their money in their pockets.
The report from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee puts November sales tax revenues at about $317.5 million. That's almost $49 million less than the same month a year earlier -- and more than $67 million below what lawmakers forecast when they put together the $9.9 billion state budget. Those figures do not yet reflect all the Christmas shopping, but retailers both locally and nationwide reported relatively lackluster Christmas season sales. Income tax collections, a reflection of the money withheld from worker paychecks, also is off by close to $35 million from November 2007, and more than $50 million below estimates. Furthermore, the chances of that picture improving in the near term also are bleak. Arizona shed more than 83,000 jobs between November 2007 and November of this year, putting the state jobless rate at 6.3%. Researchers at the state Department of Commerce are predicting the unemployment rate will definitely top 7% and might even hit 8% before the state economy turns around.