Latest Wyoming Economic Report Shows Little Change
The latest Wyoming economic report shows little change in most areas, according to a state economist.
Jim Robinson, with the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division, says the September "Wyoming Insight" economic report mostly shows a continuation of the trends in the state economy that have been in play for most of this year.
For example, sales and use tax collections for Fiscal Year 2017 (which started July 1) are down by 15.3 percent compared to the same time last year. The overall dollar figure shows a decline of $19 million statewide.
The biggest declines in sales tax collections compared to this time last year, are in Campbell and Natrona counties, which have collected $6.5 million and $3.5 million less respectively.
Of the 12 Wyoming industry sectors measured in the report, only one, leisure and hospitality (tourism) is up compared to this time in Fiscal Year 2016.
There was some good news in natural gas prices in September, which averaged $2.72 per mcf compared to $2.62 per mcf in August.
But Robinson also says natural gas prices would probably have to get and stay above $3 per mcf to really generate activity in the Wyoming natural gas industry.
Even though the latest prices are still well below that level, Robinson does see some "signs of optimism" for natural gas prices.
He says, however, that crude oil prices are not showing similar trends. He notes there was little movement in the price per barrel between August and September, and in fact, the average price actually dropped by about 4 cents per barrel over that time. The average September price per barrel was also down by 74 cents compared to one year earlier.
Robinson says the big problem with oil prices is a worldwide surplus that is keeping prices down.
The report says Wyoming lost 2.800 jobs in the oil and gas industries between August of 2015 and August 2016.
He says it may well be mid-2017 before oil goes above the $60 per barrel level and stays there based on current trends. Robinson says prices in the range of $64 per barrel would really boost the state's oil industry.