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States receive upbeat economic news

Sun., June 8, 2014

Idaho, Washington see revenue, job growth

Lawmakers in Idaho and Washington received some moderately positive economic news this week, as revenue collections continue to meet expectations and businesses continue to add jobs.

Barring a last-minute upset, Idaho’s revenue collections should come in almost exactly on target for fiscal 2014, which ends June 30.

The May revenue figures, released Friday, indicate the state collected $2.52 billion in sales, income and miscellaneous taxes through the first 11 months of the fiscal year, or just $1.2 million less than projected.

Unless the June collections are way off target, the year-end figure will be within 1 percent of projections – the first time that has happened since 2004.

Chief state economist Derek Santos’ revised forecast, issued in January, estimates state revenues for fiscal 2014 at $2.81 billion, a 2.1 percent increase over the prior year.

Santos is projecting a 6.3 percent, $178 million, increase next year, to $2.988 billion. Total appropriations for fiscal 2015 are estimated at $2.936 billion.

In Washington, Steve Lerch, Economic and Revenue Forecast Council executive director, told lawmakers Thursday the state’s economy should continue to outpace the national economy by a slight margin over the coming years.

Lerch is projecting a 2.4 percent increase in employment this year. That’s up from 2 percent in February, based largely on a revision in some historical job numbers.

Revenue collections are running 1.9 percent, or $63 million, ahead of projections, he said, although much of that was because of a one-time assessment of $37.9 million.

Washington exports in the first quarter of 2014 were up 10 percent compared to the same period of 2013. Since the previous forecast in February, single-family home construction has been weaker than expected, but that’s been offset by strong multifamily home activity.

Car sales in Washington have been volatile through the first five months of the year. They reached a post-recession high of 280,800 in January, plunged to 248,400 in March and then rose to a new post-recession high of 287,700 in April.

Overall, Washington’s economy continues to grow slowly, Lerch said, with employment increases in most industry sectors except aerospace and the federal government.


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