Winter storm hits state sales tax numbers

UC, state take tumble in most recent report

UPPER CUMBERLAND – State sales tax collections took a dive in the Upper Cumberland in March, a likely lingering effect of this year’s winter storms. The region saw a -2.9 percent decrease in revenue over last year – and 10 of the region’s 14 counties posted negative numbers overall.

Among the loss leaders were two of the UC’s largest collectors, Putnam (-3.1) and Cumberland (-4.6). Also down were DeKalb (-7.9), Fentress (-13.7), Macon (-5.9), Overton (-1.9), Pickett (-8.1), Smith (-4.2), Van Buren (-1.0) and White (-2.5).

February was a harsh weather month. The region was particularly hard hit by an ice storm that left tens of thousands on the Cumberland Plateau without power for days, even weeks. Among the counties recently declared eligible for federal relief were Clay, Cumberland, Fentress, Overton, Putnam, Van Buren, Warren, and White.

“I’m sure the winter storms had a big part in the numbers,” said Henry Bowman, an analyst with the Upper Cumberland Development District. “I’d expect it’ll hit our unemployment rates a little bit, too. But from what I’ve read about it, I would think by the time we get the April report, it should be pretty much back to normal.”

Cannon County posted the strongest numbers for the month; collections there were up 13.6 percent. Also in the black were Clay (53.3), Jackson (3.3) and Warren (1.4).

Despite the poor report, the UC still betters the state in both quarterly collections, with a 6.2 percent year-to-year improvement versus 4.3 percent, as well as annual numbers, a 5.5 percent increase over the latest 12 months, versus a 4.9 percent improvement for Tennessee.

“I’m amazed when I drive around Cookeville on Fridays and Saturdays,” Bowman said. “We’re just seeing all kinds of traffic that we weren’t seeing last year.”

Collections, which are considered just one measure of economic activity, are based on state sales taxes; local option taxes are excluded. Sales data lags by one month; for example, March numbers reflect February activity. Statewide, collections were down -3.2 percent for the month.


Counties March Year prior Percent change
Cannon $302,996 $266,706 13.6
Clay $223,477 $145,768 53.3
Cumberland $3,122,774 $3,272,841 -4.6
DeKalb $771,325 $837,649 -7.9
Fentress $583,680 $676,166 -13.7
Jackson $160,771 $155,683 3.3
Macon $860,399 $914,054 -5.9
Overton $695,588 $708,930 -1.9
Pickett $111,937 $121,788 -8.1
Putnam $6,798,461 $7,016,420 -3.1
Smith $710,095 $741,273 -4.2
Van Buren $50,670 $51,161 -1.0
Warren $1,898,673 $1,872,302 1.4
White $1,022,784 $1,049,047 -2.5
UCDD $17,313,630 $17,829,788 -2.9
TN $550,200,000 $568,199,000 -3.2


Source: Compiled by the Upper Cumberland Development District from data published by the Tennessee Department of Revenue.



Liz Engel is the editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal. She can be reached at

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