The Saratoga Sun -

State economy shows bounce

Indicators show difference in large cities’ economies


A set of economic indicators published by the Economic Analysis Division of the State of Wyoming Department of Administration and Information this month show mixed results as the state’s economy struggles to improve from languid performance the last couple years.

Economic indicators for the two largest cities in the state, Casper and Cheyenne, show disparities in how robust economic activity is in the two cities, and statewide figures still show economic activity in the state is below that of the post 2007-2008 recession high in 2014.

For the city of Casper, the business cycle index — a composite index of four measures including unemployment rate, private sector wages, sales and use tax collections and median home prices — clocked a slight decline from the previous month.

For September 2017, the business index for Casper hit 96.36, a decrease from the previous month’s figure of 96.68. The measurement for September 2017 was still significantly higher than the same one month one year earlier when the index was 94.93.

In Casper, two of the four components of the index, the jobless rate and tax collections, were up, while wages and home prices were both down over the year.

Unlike the mixed bag in Casper, Cheyenne saw positive gains in all four components of the index. Overall, Cheyenne’s business cycle index came in at 107.65, the highest it has been since 2007, the first year for which there are published figures.

Year-to-year, the city’s score was 5.07 points higher than in September 2016. September’s number was a slight improvement over the month of August, which was pegged at 107.47.

In Cheyenne, the biggest improvement in index components came from private wages, which increased 1.97 percent according to state figures.

The differences in the tale of the two largest cities in the state are most likely a result of the cities’ dependencies upon different industrial sectors.

Cheyenne saw strong increases in employment in several economic areas, whereas the city of Casper’s reliance on the mining sector, which includes oil, gas and coal extraction, limited the town’s economic growth.

Cheyenne had employment improvements of over 16 percent in three economic sectors; Goods production, mining and construction and manufacturing.

In Casper, mining jobs increased by 9.5 percent, with manufacturing and construction turning in more lethargic growth of 7.7 percent and 3.2 percent for construction. In Casper, goods production came in with a 6.2 percent increase in employment.

Statewide economic indicators are calculated differently than the state’s two largest cities. Like the city figures, the state index includesthe jobless rate and private wages. The other two components are mining tax collections and park visitors, reflecting the two largest industries statewide.

Wyoming’s business cycle index for Sept. 2017 came in at 98.49 percent, an improvement over a year prior when the index hit 95.95 percent. That is well below a five-year peak of nearly 102 in late 2014 and early 2015.

For the state, the jobless rate, private wages and mining tax collection components all improved slightly. Park visits decreased nearly 1 percent in September year-over-year.

At the state level, the largest increase in employment was in the mining and logging industrial sectors, with a 12.8 percent increase in employment year-over-year. The second highest increase was in the goods producing sector at 5.1 percent. Manufacturing increased 2.2 percent and financial activities saw a slight uptick of 0.9 percent.

The ten other industrial sectors measured in the state all decreased. The largest decrease was measured in the leisure and hospitality sector, which had a 5 percent decrease in employment.

Between January and September 2017, there were 7.38 million park visits in the state, an indicator of robustness in the state’s second largest industry, tourism. That was down from 7.43 million cumulatively to date in 2016.


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