After rising sharply with an extra push from the inflation surge of 2022, sales tax receipts in New York grew much more slowly during the first four months of this year, according to the latest data from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office.

Statewide sales tax receipts for January through April rose just 1.6 percent over the same period last year, less than half the latest reported annual inflation rate of 3.4 percent. Nearly all the net increase was in New York City, where collections were up about $109 million, matching the April-April 12-month Consumer Price Index rise of 3.4 percent. Sales tax receipts in the rest of New York barely increased at all—up a minuscule $4.5 million, or 0.11 percent. As depicted below, sales tax receipts decreased in 29 of the 50 upstate counties. Sales taxes were also down on Long Island, in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, in contrast with other New York City suburbs.

 

 

Zooming in on data for April, DiNapoli pointed out that sales tax growth “was modest for the third straight month”—and “mostly driven by New York City.”

“Over two-fifths of counties experienced year-over-year declines for the month [of April],” he added.

As previously noted here, New York State’s recovery from the job losses of the 2020 pandemic has been among the weakest in the country. Statewide private employment has barely made it back to the early 2020 level on a statewide basis—and, across upstate, has been stagnant since the turn of the century.

While private payrolls dropped by an unprecedented 2 million jobs in April 2020, taxable purchases kept rising throughout the post-pandemic period, driven by sharply rising gasoline prices, online sales, and — last but not least—the big Consumer Price Index jump of 2022, when the inflation rate rose to a 40-year high of over 9 percent.

Massive federal subsidies to individuals, households, and state and local governments helped fuel spending early in the recovery. But with inflation (for now, at least) ticking up at a slower rate, sluggish growth in sales tax receipts during the opening four months of 2024 points to a marked slowdown in spending by New York consumers and businesses (but not, unfortunately, by their insatiable state government).

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

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