BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin Editor

egebert@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT - Local sales in September showed a healthier economy according to the latest sales tax collections report released on Friday. Retail outlets in Van Wert County reported a nearly 10 percent increase for the month of September over the same month in 2011.

According to a report from Van Wert County Treasurer Bev Fuerst, sales tax collections for September jumped to their highest total in recent years. The taxes collected were up by more than $27,700, nearly $10,000 of that coming from increases in sales of motor vehicles. Sales at big box stores in the county made a slight increase in September, taking in nearly an additional $1,700 over the previous September.

"We are still running ahead of 2011 for the year," noted Fuerst. In fact, collections on the county's 1.5 percent on retail purchases are running over $78,000 ahead of last year and more than $262,000 ahead of 2010.

Collections made in November reflect sales in the county from the month of September. In 2011, September sales were up a small bit over the preceding year while October and December sales showed significant increases over 2010. Collections from November sales in 2011 were down slightly.

While totals from this year's Christmas shopping season will not be in until late February, last year's totals showed around a three percent increase for November purchases and a four percent decrease in December local buying. The totals just released show a good head start into the holiday shopping season.

Fuerst would not speculate on trends, but she did note that the November tax collections would have included part of the back-to-school season.

This latest report is the latest in a mixed bag of economic news for Van Wert County. The most recent unemployment estimates locally showed a rise in the county jobless rate to 7.0 percent after having fallen to a four-year low at 6.7 percent in September 2012.

The other statistic being watched locally is the total labor force which was back to its highest point in more than a year in October, but is still 2,000 workers less than 2008 when the unemployment figure was below 7.0 percent.