While Wyoming's oil industry continues to struggle, a state economist says he is seeing some glimmers of hope.

Jim Robinson, a Principal Economist with the state's Economic Analysis Division, says of the oil industry's recent slump that it appears "the worst is over now."

But he adds there are still questions about how long it will continue to operate at a low level of activity. He says at last report there were only three oil rigs (and five natural gas rigs) operating in Wyoming. The small number of rigs is driving down the employment rate in the industry to its current low levels.

But he says hopeful signs include the fact that the price of a barrel of crude oil has been in the range of $46 per barrel recently, compared to an average about six months ago in the $28 per barrel range, with the price for Wyoming oil even lower than that.

Robinson says if the price per barrel would get and stay above $50, it would significantly help the state's oil industry, although certainly not return it anywhere near the status of a ''boom" cycle.

Robinson says there are also widespread market reports that the current oil glut is rapidly disappearing, which offers another helpful sign.

Unfortunately, Robinson says that isn't true of the natural gas industry, which continues to have an oversupply on the market and shows few hopeful signs right now