Newly compiled data on Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) suggests a slight slowdown in spending during the second quarter of 2014. After surging 1.3% in the first quarter, ATS fell 0.3% in the second quarter (seasonally adjusted). Compared to a year earlier, ATS was up only 0.2%. A broader measure — Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) — was also down 0.3% for the quarter.
In the five years since the trough of the recession (2009:Q2), ATS has increased 15.6% and ATSIG has increased by 17.8% — corresponding annual percentage growth rates of 2.9% and 3.3%, respectively. It is worth noting, however, that the taxable sales statistics are not adjusted for inflation. Using the price index for personal consumption expenditures, we can express ATS and ATSIG in real (inflation adjusted) terms. As shown in the figure below, real measures of ATS and ATSIG remain below their previous cyclical peaks. Since the recession trough, real ATS has increased by only 5.9% (a 1.1% annual rate), while real ATSIG has increased by 7.9% (a 1.5% annual rate).
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Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) is calculated by the Institute for Economic Advancement to serve as a timely proxy for Arkansas retail sales. The series is derived from sales and use tax data, adjusting for the relative timing of tax collections and underlying sales, changes in tax laws, and seasonal patterns in the data. Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) incorporates data on the state motor fuel tax and gasoline prices from the Oil Price Information Service.
A spreadsheet of the data is available here: Arkansas Taxable Sales 2014:Q2 (Excel file)