Newspaper article The Billings Gazette (Billings, MT)

Despite Stabilization, New Numbers Show Extent of Wyoming's Economic Decline

Newspaper article The Billings Gazette (Billings, MT)

Despite Stabilization, New Numbers Show Extent of Wyoming's Economic Decline

Article excerpt

New economic numbers confirm what we already knew about Wyoming's economy this year: Things have been rough.

Income, employment and sales tax receipts continued to fall sharply this year, according to three reports released recently by the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division. But the reports covered only the second quarter of 2016, which ended in June, and some of those figures have since perked up.

"The overall economy is stabilizing for third quarter," said the state's chief economist Wenlin Liu.

He said the summer months had shown improvement. The unemployment rate did not increase, and there were no new jobless claims coming from mining workers.

Liu also noted that the number of oil and gas rigs had increased in September from eight to 13, boosting sales tax revenue by about $1 million as energy companies purchase equipment to bring the new rigs online.

But the reports still attach hard data to a economic decline that began in 2015 and continued into this year.

In the second quarter, sales tax was down 17 percent statewide compared with 2015 -- a fall in sales related to mining accounted for 40 percent of the drop.

Apartment rental costs dropped in many counties: 25 percent in Converse, 13 percent in Natrona and 11 percent in Campbell from the year prior.

(Teton County, always an economic outlier in the state, showed an increase of 42 percent from 2015 with a two-bedroom apartment averaging $1,826 this year.)

Home value lagged behind the Mountain west region and the nation as a whole.

While home price appreciation since last year was up 10.2 percent in Colorado, 7. …

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