Regional Sales Tax Revenue Slowly Recovering
Sales tax revenue in the region took a hit in the months following the initial COVID-19 response in the U.S. In April and May 2020, each of the 8 counties in the Greater Capital Region all saw steep decreases beyond the normal fluctuations. Since that time, revenues have slowly begun to return back to normal levels. Revenues for the Capital Region counties have grown since June, bringing revenues closer to normal. According to an article from The Daily Gazette, August 2020 sales tax revenue in the region was still below the August 2019 level, but the difference was not nearly as dramatic as between April / May 2020 and April / May 2019.
Between April 2019 and 2020, Albany County saw the highest difference in sales tax revenue, declining by $7,421,516 or 33.29%, followed by Schenectady County at a decrease of $2,277,207 or 29.76%. Saratoga and Rensselaer saw similar rates of decline of $2,604,235 or 25.98% and $1,876,413 or 25.88% respectively. September 2020 saw a jump in sales tax revenue across all 8 counties, and for each county it was the highest single month of revenue over the past year. Rensselaer County saw the biggest increase between September 2019 and 2020, increasing by 23.53%.This was followed by Schenectady County at 21.93%.While not seeing as high of rates of increase, Saratoga and Albany also increased at 9.54% and 3.54% respectively. It will be important to monitor future revenues to determine if September 2020 increases were an outlier or the beginning of a trend of higher sales tax revenues.
October 2020 revenues saw declines from October 2019 but the decline were back within pre-COVID levels. Schenectady County had the highest decrease between October 2019 and 2020 at 11.46%. While still lower than last year, this is an improvement over April’s declines. The other three Capital Region counties fared better in October. Albany County saw only 3.7% decrease and Saratoga saw a 3.12% decrease. Rensselaer had the lowest yearly decrease at only .75%.
If revenues stay near these recent levels, that would be a very positive sign for the region’s economy returning back to normal. With cases in the region rising and uncertainty about additional federal stimulus, sales tax revenue will continue to be an important indicator to monitor economic recovery.