Cheyenne And Casper Economies Are A Tale Of Two Cities
A Senior State Economist says Cheyenne's economy continues to perform somewhat better than that of Casper.
Jim Robinson says that while Cheyenne's economy could certainly be better, Casper is still feeling the brunt of a downturn in energy prices that has put the statewide economy into a prolonged slump.
Cheyenne scored a 102.47 on Robinson's Business Cycle Index in September, the last month included in the report. Casper meanwhile logged a score of 94.78 for the same month.
That index includes four components--unemployment, private sector wages, sales tax collections and median home prices.
Even though Cheyenne's economy has suffered less impact from the decline in energy than much of the state, it's index score was still down compared to a September 2015 score of 103.64.
Robinson says Cheyenne lost 1,200 jobs over that period a decline of 2.5 percent. Private wages and sales tax collections in Laramie County were down significantly over that period, but median home prices went up.
Casper, meanwhile, saw its index score drop by a little four points from a September 2015 index score of 99.01. All four of the components of the Casper index were down this year compared to a year earlier, including a loss of 2,200 jobs, or about 5.3 percent.
Not surprisingly in view of the hit the energy industry has taken in Wyoming, the mining sector alone in Natrona County lost 700 jobs between September 2015 and September of this year.
Sales tax collections, private sector wages, and median home prices all took a hit in Casper in the year-over-year comparison. The decline in private sector wages was mostly caused by a decline in average hours worked. Average hourly wages actually went up slightly in Casper, from $22.80 a year ago to $23.41 this year.
Robinson also says that even though Casper's year over year index score is down, it has been improving slightly since April, when it hit a low point for the year.
Robinson says the overall state economy seems to have bottomed out and appears to be stabilizing, including in both of the state's largest cities.
But he adds there is no way to know at this point when it will actually start to improve.