This story comes through a content-sharing partnership with Wyoming Public Radio.
Recently released data from the Wyoming Department of Administration & Information’s Economic Analysis Division indicate that the state’s economy grew in the fourth quarter of 2022. About 5,700 jobs were added from the same period in 2021. This was measured by an increase in taxable revenue of 13.6 percent. However, the growth rate was lower than the national average.
“Taxable sales continue to increase, about 14 percent, so it’s consistent with the overall Wyoming economic performance,” said Wenlin Liu, chief economist of the Economic Analysis Division. “It’s continued to recover, continue to rebound, reflecting employment increasing, again compared to last year, employment increasing and revenue increasing [and] personal income increasing. It’s quite consistent.”
A significant reason for the state’s economic growth centered on the increase in mining activity (including oil and gas extraction) with a 59.9 percent increase. But the mining sector hasn’t caught up to where it was before the pandemic in 2019. Taxable sales have surpassed pre-pandemic numbers. This is primarily due to a 29 percent expansion in retail trade with inflation playing a key role.
The leisure and hospitality sectors (primarily restaurant and lodging services) added approximately 1,400 jobs. However, Wyoming’s overall employment still lagged compared to pre-pandemic levels by around 4,100 jobs. This is primarily due to employment declines in the mining, construction, and government sectors.
Employment in professional and business services gained about 800 jobs, and private education and health services added around 700, surpassing pre-COVID-19 levels. Weston and Carbon counties led the state in increases in taxable sales year-over-year with 47.8 and 44.4 percent increases, respectively. Campbell, Converse, Sweetwater, Sublette, Niobrara, and Washakie counties also experienced sizable increases of about 20 percent or greater. Laramie and Johnson counties were the only two counties to experience losses, at 0.6 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.
“Most counties with higher proportion of mineral extraction [saw an] increase,” Liu said. “On the other hand, like Laramie or like Big Horn or some counties [that] actually [are] either declining or slowly increase[ing], these counties, there’s not as much mineral extraction activities.”
Mineral severance taxes were significantly higher than they were in the final quarter of 2021, increasing by 17.8 percent. However, the fourth quarter was 9.5 percent lower than the third quarter of 2022. Liu attributed this to a slower growth in demand but a faster increase in supply and inventory.
Wyoming’s housing market slowed during the fourth quarter, with single family appreciation slowing to 7.3 percent year-over-year, the slowest since the third quarter of 2020. Higher interest rates instituted by the Federal Reserve was the major reason for this.
The state’s unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent despite several sectors adding new jobs. This was slightly higher than the national average of 3.6 percent. Personal income rose 5.3 percent but was still slightly behind the national average of 5.7 percent.
The agricultural sector recorded an increase in growth after several consecutive quarters of losses. This equated to a 14.8 percent increase compared to the same period the previous year and an 18.8 increase above third quarter levels. The number of livestock, with the exception of milk cows, was down to 1.24 million head on Jan. 1, 2023, a two percent decrease from Jan. 1, 2022.
Liu predicts that a growth trend will continue this year, but with somewhat of a different growth rate than what was experienced last year.
“I believe our economy, both Wyoming and the U.S. probably will continue to expand somewhat, but the speed of recovery will be slower than [in] 2022,” he said.