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Amazon agrees to pay N.J. sales tax

BY Brae Canlen

Gov. Chris Christie has announced an agreement with Amazon, the Internet’s largest retailer, that will levy state sales tax on purchases made by New Jersey residents. Saying it took “months of hard work and good faith discussions,” the governor said it will be Amazon’s “obligation” to track and collect the sales tax starting in July 2013.

A similar agreement was struck with Nevada earlier this month and Texas in April.

The New Jersey accord came sugar-coated in an Amazon promise to build two large “fulfillment centers” in New Jersey, at a cost of $130 million, ultimately creating 1,300 full-time jobs. Construction is expected to start next year, Christie said.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) issued a statement that said: “Today New Jersey joins 13 other states, including California, Texas and Virginia, who have taken action to close a decades-old loophole that hurts Main Street retailers.  Finally, Governor Christie today joined a broad range of governors who have called on Congress to pass a comprehensive federal solution that gives states the power to enforce their tax laws and ensure that all retailers play by the same rules.”

 

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Getting back to work: A state-by-state analysis

BY Brae Canlen

A recently released report by IHS Global Insight shows how far away U.S. states are from peak employment and the distance each one must travel to reach pre-recession job levels. According to U.S. regional economist Steven Frable of IHS Global, only four states have been able to reach or surpass their previous employment peaks. All four are beneficiaries of the current energy boom: Alaska, North Dakota, Texas and Louisiana. Some states, though — notably New York — are less than 1% away from reaching peak employment.

Other states have a long way to go, according to the analysis: 16 states still have fewer than 95% of their pre-recession job levels. Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Rhode Island and Nevada are behind previous peaks by 7% or more.

Frable expects almost half of the United States to achieve peak employment in 2012 to 2013, while the other half will not recover until 2014 and later. Nevada, Michigan and Rhode Island will not recover until past 2017.

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Home prices continue to fall in Case-Shiller Index

BY Brae Canlen

Housing price data from the S&P/Case-Shiller for March 2012 showed year-over-year declines for both the researchers’ indices, a pattern that has continued over the past several months. The 10-City Composite declined 2.8%, and the 20-City Composite was down 2.6%.

All three headline composites (20- and 10-City Composites, plus the national composite) ended the first quarter of 2012 at new post-crisis lows. The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, posted a 1.9% decline in the first quarter of 2012 over the first quarter of 2011.

Five cities — Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and Portland — saw average home prices hit new lows. Phoenix posted the largest annual rate of change (+6.1%), while home prices in Atlanta fell the most over the year, down 17.7%.

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