Arkansas general fund collections in July totaled $461.2 million, up $26.4 million from July 2011 and $15.7 million more than expected.

Monthly figures released last week by the Department of Finance and Administration show most of the growth came from higher-than-expected individual income tax collections. That income tax generated $212.1 million in July, almost $13 million more than expected.

The state’s unemployment rate fell to 7.2% in June from 7.3% in May. Unemployment in Arkansas peaked at 8.2% in July 2011.

Corporate income tax collections totaled $25.9 million in July, beating the forecast by $3.3 million.

Deputy director Tim Leathers said the monthly numbers indicate slow growth in Arkansas’s economy. “We don’t have any reason to believe this is a trend,” Leathers said at a news conference on Aug. 2.

Monthly revenues have exceeded the previous year’s collections for eight consecutive months. Sales tax collections were off slightly in July. Total collections fell to $177.9 million, down by $1 million from July 2011 and $7.5 million less than expected.

Gov. Mike Beebe said the increase in income tax collections was a sign that more people are back at work, but he was concerned about the drop in the sales tax.

“Some of if it may be we had huge surges earlier in the year with a lot of people buying cars and big-ticket items,” he said. “You cannot sustain that every month.”

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