(Laura Simon) [Order this photo]
"The numbers look pretty good and have for awhile," says John Mehner, president and CEO of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce. "That doesn't mean certain sectors aren't still struggling. The local economy is improving a little, but much needs to happen nationally for that to continue. I think next year will still be a struggle for many small- to medium-sized businesses."
Cape Girardeau County sales tax revenue totals for 2011 were $6,492,658.27, up 4.08 percent from 2010, according to data from Cape Girardeau County Treasurer Roger Hudson. The numbers fell .86 percent in 2008 and 3.62 percent in 2009, but rose 2.65 percent in 2010 to $6,238,401.42.
"Retail sales appear to be doing pretty well," says Bruce Domazlicky, director of the Center for Economic and Business Research at Southeast Missouri State University. "The figures I get from the state on sales tax collections imply that retail sales in the county in the third quarter of this year were almost 4.2 percent higher than in the same period in 2010. For the Southeast Missouri region, retail sales in the third quarter were up about 3.5 percent in the third quarter this year over the same period last year. Additionally, for Cape County, retail sales in the first nine months of 2011 are more than 5 percent higher than in the same period of 2010. So all the data point to improving retail sales in the region."
In the city of Cape Girardeau, sales tax revenue totals from January through November stood at $8,229,171, compared to last year's $7,974,103 from the same period, and $7,871,109 in 2009.
In Jackson, 2011 totals for January through November were at $1,852,789, up slightly from last year's $1,849,888 and the $1,827,860 reported in 2009. Additionally, totals from the fire protection sales tax enacted in May were at $2,36,626 by the end of November.
"I would expect next year to have similar increases -- 3.5 to 5 percent range seems likely -- as the economy continues to grow," says Domazlicky. However, there is growing concern in the United States about how the debt crisis in Europe will affect the American economy.
"The main danger to the economy going forward is the trouble in the eurozone that may drag Europe into a recession. If that happens, our economic growth is likely to be cut by as much as one-half of one percent, which would reduce income and spending a bit," says Domazlicky.
Another growing concern for the local economy is Internet sales tax -- or, rather, the current inability of states to collect sales tax on Internet purchases.
"We have to level the playing field between 'bricks and mortar' stores and sales on the Internet," says Mehner. "It is time to have the same sales tax rate for both -- regardless of what that is."