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Nevada taxable sales climb 7.3 percent in April

Michelle Rindels, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Taxable sales in Nevada shot up 7.3 percent in April from the same month last year, state officials reported Wednesday, suggesting consumers are more confident as the Silver State slogs out of the economic downturn.

Merchants statewide sold $3.8 billion in goods in April, with big gains for the construction industry and the vehicle and accommodations categories, the Department of Taxation said.

The $293 million in overall taxes collected was a 7.7 percent increase from a year earlier. The portion that goes to the state general fund totaled $74 million — up more than 7 percent from April 2012.

In Clark County, sales rose 3.7 percent in April. Washoe County posted an 8.7 percent hike.

Only four of Nevada's 17 counties — Carson City, Lander, Lincoln and White Pine — reported decreased sales. Monthly reports from rural areas can vary widely because of large purchases by mining or energy development operations that can skew year-over-year comparisons.

Some sectors reporting strong gains included the construction industry, which saw sales surge 113 percent from April 2012. Nevada's construction industry was pummeled during the recession when the state's housing market collapsed after years of rapid growth.

Sales of autos and vehicle parts rose 16.4 percent in April, while sales of wholesale durable goods jumped 7 percent.

Clothing and accessory stores saw a slight dip of 1.5 percent, and sales of home furnishings were also down, slipping 1 percent.

Sales at food and beverage stores rose 5.7 percent.

Accommodations, a key indicator on the health of Nevada's critical tourism industry, jumped 57.3 percent in April. Sales at bars and restaurants grew by 5.1 percent. Both signal consumers are more comfortable spending discretionary dollars.

For the 10 months of the current fiscal year, total tax collections are up 6 percent from the previous year.

The portion that goes to the state general fund is about 0.1 percent, or $900,000, below the forecast made in early May by the independent Economic Forum. Those projections are used to set the state budget.

Excise tax collections paid on items such as liquor, tobacco and live entertainment totaled $28 million, up 12.5 percent from April 2012, the report said.