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Officials put real numbers to COVID-19 damage done to Tennessee economy

Tenn. Dept. Revenue

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  The damage done to Tennessee’s economy by coronavirus has come into sharper focus. Tax collections for the month of April indicate some sectors of the economy have taken a tremendous beating, while others have done surprisingly well.

Officials with the Tennessee Department of Revenue report hotels and lodging took the biggest hit, with business off a whopping 53 percent. Clothing sales and entertainment were both down 45 percent. Auto sales, home furnishings, and restaurants were also off sharply.

However, grocery stores actually saw a 25 increase in sales. Building materials were up 13 percent.

Total state tax collections for the month April, year-over-year, were down 6 percent, a surprisingly small number given the depth of the crisis.

University of Tennessee Economist Dr. Bill Fox says two factors prevented the damage from being worse. He noted that Tennessee relies heavily on sales taxes for revenue. The sharp uptick in grocery and building supply sales helped offset losses in other sectors.

Dr. Fox also noted that 90 of Tennessee’s 95 counties actually enjoyed tax receipts above projections, thanks in large part to the collection of taxes from online sales.

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