There are signs of economic recovery in Fort Worth one year since the COVID-19 pandemic started, but city leaders say they are viewing the numbers with guarded optimism.
According to data released this week, Fort Worth’s net sales tax collections in March totaled $18,615,313. Mark McAvoy, director of Planning and Data Analytics for the city of Fort Worth, said this is an increase from March 2020 by 29.5%.
“We attribute most of that to the governor’s actions, lifting the remaining restrictions and maybe some pent-up demand that came after the February winter storm,” McAvoy told NBC 5 Friday. "We’ve seen year-over-year growth for the last several years but nowhere near a 30% increase."
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McAvoy says while the double-digit increase suggests the city is in a recovery period financially, it may not be an anticipated growth size long-term.
“We want to obviously not bank on continued double-digit increases,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the future. We think we have bright days ahead of us, but we also want to see what the next few months' performances look like.”
At Treat Me Sweet in Fort Worth, bakery owner Sharon Wessel said business is starting to pick up again. During the first three months of the pandemic, her shop along Bryant Irvin Road was closed with the exception of pick-up orders.
With some larger events returning as the pandemic eases, Wessel said she’s gotten more orders for weddings, graduations, and birthday cakes.
“I had a bride, she had to reschedule three times, but we worked with her. She finally got it done. Now the wedding cakes have picked up,” Wessel said. “Before the pandemic, people were ordering a small six-inch cake just for the family. Now they’re doing the parties, so they’re ordering cakes to feed 50, 60 people.”
Wessel, however, now finds herself in a new challenge among several small business owners around the country of rehiring for positions they were forced to let go of last year. A March survey by the National Federation of Independent Business found that a record-high 42% of owners had job openings that could not be filled. 91% of those hiring or trying to hire reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill, CNBC reports.
“I put ads on Facebook, Instagram. I didn’t even get one application,” Wessel said. “If I’m back there doing orders, it would be nice to have someone that can come help customers out there. Right now, I do it all. Keeps me busy. Some nights are late, but that’s okay.”
Fort Worth’s April net sales tax collections will be available in June, according to city officials. Sales tax revenue represents 22% of the city’s General Fund budget. This is the second largest revenue source, with property taxes being the largest.