Wyoming economy gaining strength

By  | 

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (KGWN) - Wyoming’s economy, as a whole, is growing, but there is still work to do. From tourism to taxable sales to drilling for oil, just about every part of the state’s money-making ability gained strength. This is according to the economic summary released by Wyoming’s Economic Analysis Division.

Income grew in the second quarter by more than 4%, nearly keeping pace with the national average. Taxable sales grew more than 13%, with mineral heavy Converse county seeing the biggest increase of more than 86%. Tourism is also up, with the bulk of tourism coming to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, both of which saw increases.

Housing is a weak spot for Wyoming, as homes are appreciating in value at about half the rate of the national average. The report states many reasons for this, but Wyoming economist, Wenlin Liu, says it relates to demand, and that is tied to our population. The state may have added 4,000 jobs in the second quarter, but the workforce in Wyoming continues to shrink as baby boomers retire, and nearby states with booming economies attract workers.

"Colorado is always number one competitor for Wyoming.” Liu says, “You know, as long as their economy is booming, which it is booming now, that just attracts many of our workmen, many of our younger workers."

Most of Wyoming’s sales and increases are, in one way or another, related to the state’s economic king: the mineral extraction industry. However, that’s a double edged sword as Wyoming is still recovering from the sharp energy downturn of 2015.

"We're climbing out of a big hole. From the end of 2015 to the end of 2016, the state lost almost 20,000 jobs." Liu added, “And a third of the job loss comes from the mineral extraction industries.”

Liu went on to say that even with two years of adding jobs in the state, we have only gained about a third of the jobs lost in the downturn. The economy is certainly rebounding, but there is also a lot of growing left to do before the wound of the energy downturn is healed.