Wyo betters employment numbers


The state level unemployment figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show Wyoming's unemployment dipped below the national average while income rose, despite retreats in oil and coal prices.

The number of jobs in the Mining and Logging industry sector, which includes jobs in the oil and coal industries, increased by 1.600 over the year ending May 2017. These gains were not enough to offset losses or zero growth in 13 other employment categories. Overall, the state had 3,900 fewer jobs in May 2017 than it did a year earlier, and the unemployment rate decreased from 4.3 percent in April to 4.1 percent in May.

The national unemployment rate was 4.3 percent.

Despite the fact the state had fewer jobs in all but one industry category, the state's personal income increased in almost all industry sectors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

According to BLS figures, the Rocky Mountain Region, which includes Wyoming as well as Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Utah had income growth of 1.1 percent in the first quarter of 2017.

Wyoming's growth was 1.1 percent. Idaho led the region and the nation at 1.6 percent. Overall, wage growth in the U.S. was at 1 percent. Nebraska was the only state in the country that had a decline in income, with a 0.1 percent drop.

In Wyoming, wage growth increased $334 million in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. Wage growth is measured by the BLS as a combination of wages and salaries, income from property and government payments such as social security.

In Wyoming, the greatest increase occurred in wages and salaries, which accounted for $168 million, or 50 percent, of the state's total income increase.

Income from property, was up $107 million, 32 percent of the total increase. Government payments were up by $69 million.

In the state, income increased in 19 of the 24 industry categories tracked by the BLS.

"The state saw growth in 19 of the 24 BEA-defined industries in the first quarter of 2017 with the mining sector, which includes oil and gas activities, having the largest impact on private earnings growth (+$71 million, +2.9%) followed by construction (+$46 million, +2.8%)," Jim Robinson, principal economist for the state's Economic Analysis Division, said. "Farm earnings fell by $29 million (-96.8%) compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. Transportation recorded the second largest decline where earnings fell by $13 million (-0.8%)."


Increases in employment in the state's oil and gas sector came despite softening prices for oil on the market. In April, the per barrel cost of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) averaged $51.06. In June, the price averaged $45.13 per barrel.

According to oilfield services company Baker-Hughes, Wyoming's oil and gas rig count for the month of June was 25. In June 2016, there were 7 rigs in the state according to figures published by the company.

Generally speaking, higher oil prices tend to bolster U.S. production. Last year, after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced cutbacks in production by member states, oil prices began to increase. But prices crept up slowly because of a large surplus in oil and finished fuel stocks, as well as questions about Russia's production intentions.

Despite the meager increases in oil prices, rig counts increased in the U.S., with the greatest impact in Texas, where rig counts more than doubled from 198 in June 2016 to 461 in June of this year.

Except for Arkansas-which went from having zero rigs to one-Wyoming led the nation in rig count increases, with a 72 percent increase in rigs between June of 2016 and June of 2017. New Mexico was second, with a 68 percent increase. Alaska and Kansas both had fewer operating wells than a year ago.

Nationwide, the average rig count increase is 44 percent.

As of Wednesday morning, WTI was trading in New York for 46.48 per barrel. Earlier in the week oil rallied nearing the $50 per barrel mark.

The rally ended after Russia announced it would not cut oil production.

Despite that, Citibank commodities expert Ed Morse said in a report a decrease of 1 million barrels per day is expected in the second half of the year.


Across Wyoming, sales and use tax collections are down compared to the previous year, and permits for new housing reained flat over the previous year.

Crook, Teton and Washackie were the only three counties to have increases in collections. Teton gained the most, with a 5.9 percent increase in collections. Crook County collections increased 3.3 percent, and Washakie County had a slight 0.2 percent increase.

Carbon County experienced an 8.1 percent decline in sales tax collections over the year, a reduction of $1.2 million.

When broken down by industry, the only industrial sector in the state that saw an increase in sales and use tax collections was the transportation and utilities sector, which increased by 4.2 percent, or $1.4 million.

The construction and financial services sectors had the greatest decrease in sales and use tax collections. Construction experienced a 31.5 percent decrease, or 5.7 million dollars, and the financial sector collections decerased by $7.4 million, a 27.5 percent drop.

Statewide, collections were down by $57 million, an average of 9.6 percent.

Residential buiding permits, another gauge of economic activity in the state were flat when compared over the year. In total, there were 702 residential building permits filed in the state over the last 12 months, compared with 704 for the previous year-to-date.

There were 623 permits issued for single-family dwellings compared to 622 for the previous year, and 79 applications for multi-family buildings compared to 82 for the previous year.


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019