This is bad any way you slice it:
Retail sales plunged far more than expected in December, a record sixth straight monthly decline as consumers were battered by a recession, a severe credit crisis and soaring job losses, none of which are likely to ease anytime soon.
The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that retail sales dropped 2.7 percent last month, more than double the 1.2 percent decline that Wall Street expected.
And it’s especially bad for a border county.
Retail sales in Clark County experienced a sharp decline in last year’s third quarter as the effect of the housing slowdown continued to seep into the local economy.
According to a report Tuesday from the Washington Department of Revenue, the county’s store-only sales totalled $499.9 million in the three months ending in September. That was down 7.9 percent from $542.6 million spent at retail stores in the third quarter in 2007, and weaker than statewide trend.
Store-only taxable retail sales throughout Washington declined by 6.2 percent to $12.4 billion.
State lawmakers and local governments are chasing a constantly moving revenue target, and the target is going down, down, down.
That’s what happens when your system of taxation relies far too heavily on a regressive sales tax. By the time new revenue estimates are available, they’re most likely already outdated.
People are understandably worried about their own personal pocketbooks. I’m not so sure the wider public truly understands the huge impact on things we all take for granted, like schools, roads, police, parks and other basic services.
Our system of taxation never made much sense, and now it is just going to make things worse. And down here where a short drive over the river takes one to sales tax free Oregon, the trend is likely to accelerate.
Deep thought: usually recessions are relatively short and the state’s coffers are replenished. Is anyone talking much about what will happen in an extended downturn of say, two to four years?