Wyoming Economist ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ After New Report
A Senior Wyoming State Economist says he is "cautiously optimistic" following the release of a new report on the Wyoming economy on Friday morning.
But while Jim Robinson says the latest numbers are "better than mixed" news, he also says the oil and gas industries in Wyoming may never employ as many people as they once did.
Robinson says that is because oil and gas companies have learned to operate more efficiently with fewer employees over the last few years. That is both good and bad for Wyoming's economy.
The upside is that it means oil and gas companies can make a profit on lower energy prices than was the case a few years ago. Profitable companies are far more likely to hire employees than companies that are breaking even or losing money.
But the downside is that even if oil and gas prices return to the levels seen during the ''good times," they still may not hire as many workers in Wyoming as they once would have. Robinson says oil and gas industry across the country "looks a lot different than it did two years ago."
For Wyoming, that means oil and gas activity that has been increasing despite prices that aren't changing very much. Prices for both oil and natural gas declined slightly in June, and haven't changed much for the past several months.
He says in May the Wyoming oil and gas rig count was up to 24, up from a low of 7 in Wyoming at one point. He says the number of oil and gas jobs at last count was up to about 11,400 in Wyoming.
That's an increase of about 1,700 jobs compared to a year earlier. But not all the numbers in the latest report are good news. Sales and use tax collections for the first 11 months of Fiscal Year 2017 (or through May) were down by 21.2 million in Campbell County and $6.9 million in Natrona County.
Statewide sales and use tax collections are down by $57.2 million, or 9.6 percent over that same period.