On the money: Latest state revenue update shows cumulative collections 0.5 percent above March forecast.

The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council reports revenue collections for the most recent month are 1.1 percent higher than anticipated in the March forecast.

Major General Fund-State (GF-S) revenue collections for the May 11 – June 10, 2019 collection period came in $29.6 million (1.1%) above the March forecast. During the period there were $26.2 million in large refunds that were not included in the forecast. Without these refunds, collections would have been $55.7 million (2.0%) higher than forecasted.

Cumulatively, collections are now $30.0 million (0.5%) above the March forecast. Since the March forecast, large one-time payments and large refunds have summed to a net re- fund of $9.2 million. Without the large one-time payments and refunds, cumulative collections would have been $39.2 million (0.7%) higher than forecasted.

In a time of some clear economic volatility and uncertainty, then, the March forecast turns out to be right on the money. 

Some other insights from the report:

We have three months of new Washington employment data since the March forecast was released. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose 25,300 (seasonally adjusted) in March, April, and May which was 6,100 more than expected in the March forecast. Private services-providing sectors added 15,400 jobs in the three-month period and the construction sector added 5,900 jobs. Manufacturing gained only 200 jobs in spite of a 1,300 increase in aerospace employment. Government employment increased by 3,700 jobs.

Washington’s unemployment rate remained at 4.7% in May after increasing in March and April. The rate was at its all-time low of 4.4% as recently as October 2018. The reason for the increase in recent months is that although employment has continued to grow, the la- bor force has grown faster.

Nationally, we see some signs of softening.

National data were mixed this month. Job growth was much lower than in recent months and layoff announcements were up but the unemployment rate remained at a very low 3.6%. Residential construction activity was up this month but lags last year’s level and home sales dropped. Light vehicle sales bounced back this month but industrial produc- tion and new orders for core capital goods were down.

The U.S. economy added 75,000 net new jobs in May, down from an average of 186,000 jobs per month in the prior four months. Employment data for March and April were revised down by 75,000 jobs.

So far, so good, but with reasons to be cautious.