More Bad News For Wyoming’s Economy
A new report on the health of the state economy shows more of the same bad news as other recent surveys.
The March 2016 MACRO quarterly report from the state Economic Analysis Division once again shows low energy prices and related job layoffs having a devastating effect on Wyoming's economy.
Jim Robinson, principal economist for the division, says the state economy is still losing jobs and state revenues continue to decline. He says the state has now lost jobs for 10 straight months.
The latest report shows sales and use tax collections for Fiscal Year 2016--which began on July 1, 2015-- are $129.3 million, or 20.3 percent, below the figures for the same time in FY 2015.
Robinson says Campbell, Converse and Natrona Counties are especially being hit hard, accounting for 68 percent of the decrease in sales tax revenues.
Robinson says personal income in Wyoming declined by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 (calendar year). Surprisingly though, despite all of the bad news, Wyoming home prices showed a "modest but steady" increase through 2015.
But that varied quite a bit around the state, according to Robinson. He says the growth in home prices slowed down in Casper, but was ''impressive" in Cheyenne.
He says that is a reflection of the overall strength of the economies in those communities.
Natrona County, which is heavily dependent on the energy industry, is being hit especially hard by the economic downturn, whereas Laramie County has a far more diverse economic base that includes government and tourism as major players.
F.E. Warren Air Force Base is also a major contributor to the Cheyenne area economy.
Robinson says there are some signs of hope in the overall grim state economic outlook, including a modest increase lately in crude oil prices, which have been edging into the $40 per barrel range.
But he says questions remain as to whether the recent prices are sustainable and likely to increase in coming months.