NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - In January, a dismal economic report on the State of the Region was released by the Deep East Texas Council of Governments.
Now, just four months later, it's releasing an upswing in sales tax allocations, region wide. Why are the two reports so different, and will the resurgence by short-lived?
DETCOG keeps watch over the region's economy. It's State of Region in January spoke of population declines, slow job growth, and lagging sales tax allocations.
"The State of the Region report was a pretty solemn story about the state of the economy in Deep East Texas, and they were just the facts," said Walter Diggles, the executive director of DETCOG.
It's news that DETCOG director Walter Diggles knows county leaders would really like to keep to themselves. They much prefer today's release showing the region's first quarter of 2015 sales tax allocations increased 11 percent from the previous year. That's exciting news to report.
"While most of it was located in Angelina County, Lufkin and San Jacinto County it did still indicate that most of the areas had some increase in sales tax activity," Diggles said.
The upswing only leads to a downer question. How long can it last with unemployment on the rise from GE layoffs and elsewhere?
"There's no question about that. I think when you look at 500 jobs being lost there's a ripple effect," Diggles said.
Diggles said retraining programs are on the horizon. Also a redirection to the retirement and tourism industries is encouraged. And he gives advice not normally heard when reporting improved sales DET returns.
"Really, people need to be vigilant right now and be careful about spending. I don't see any drastic change in lifestyles," Diggles said. "I just think people need to make an adjustment, be retrained, there will be other job openings and there will be some relocations."
But Diggles also said he realizes that's a tough sale for a longtime job trades worker to consider.
And if it gets worse, we'll have to reflect it also," Diggles said.
The 11-percent increase calculates into a first quarter increase of over $48 million in taxable sales in the region.