© 2024 Wyoming Public Media
800-729-5897 | 307-766-4240
Wyoming Public Media is a service of the University of Wyoming
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Transmission & Streaming Disruptions
Stories, Stats, Impacts: Wyoming Public Media is here to keep you current on the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Wyoming’s economy improved in 2022 but a slowdown is expected this year

An oil and gas rig in Converse County. Recent statistics show the energy industry added jobs in 2022 but still lags behind pre-COVID figures. Other sectors, such as leisure and hospitality and professional and business services added some of the most jobs last year.
Bureau of Land Management
Flickr via CC BY 2.0
An oil and gas rig in Converse County. Recent statistics show the energy industry added jobs in 2022 but still lags behind pre-COVID figures. Other sectors, such as leisure and hospitality and professional and business services added some of the most jobs last year.

The Wyoming Department of Administration & Information’s Division of Economic Analysis released statistics late last month indicating Wyoming’s economy grew by approximately 6,500 or 2.3 percent more payroll jobs in the third quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. But only some sectors have rebounded to or above pre-COVID levels, while other sectors continue to lag.

The leisure and hospitality sector led the way adding about 1,900 more jobs (4.8 percent more) with the mining industry adding about 1,600 jobs (10.4 percent). However, when compared to the third quarter of 2019, the state’s total employment still lagged by approximately 5,600 jobs (1.9 percent). These figures were most pronounced in the mining industry, government and construction sectors. Employment in professional and business services was one of the best performing sectors, surpassing its pre-COVID level by around 1,300 jobs.

“The speed of recovery was somewhat slower than [the] U.S. average and that's because Wyoming has been in an extraction driven economy,” said Wenlin Liu, Chief Economist with the Wyoming Division of Economic Analysis. “The mining sector is operating very much different every time during recovery, they will operate in a lot more efficient [ways], that means they can produce the same amount of minerals with less labor.”

Total taxable sales are the total sales of taxable goods and services for a particular business or economy over a given period of time. These grew 20.4 percent in the third quarter of 2022 compared to 2021, which was largely attributed to the growth or retail sales and a robust increase in mining. Compared to the third quarter of 2019, the mining industry's taxable sales were still down by 13 percent. However, the state’s total taxable sales were 13.3 percent higher, which was attributed to a 28 percent spike in retail sales. All 23 counties saw an increase in taxable sales in the third quarter of 2022, with Campbell, Converse, and Sublette counties experiencing significant increases due largely to their role in the mining and energy industries. Other counties, such as Weston, Teton, Laramie, Washakie, Johnson, and Park counties only experienced small increases with the others seeing modest increases.

“[The] severance tax[es] increased almost 50 percent compared to last year and it's almost the highest since third quarter 2008,” Liu said. “Back then the mining industry was really booming [and was] driven by natural gas exploration back then. So now, mostly because of higher prices, higher oil prices, higher natural gas prices, and higher coal prices to gas production [and energy production generally] again, the revenue increase is mostly driven by prices not production.”

The construction industry which lagged during this period was attributed to its connection with mineral and mining sectors. Other sectors that haven’t traditionally been major economic drivers in Wyoming saw an increase in their share of the economy during the third quarter.

“One industry is professional opinion services (architecture, law, engineering, surveying, mapping), they were much higher than pre-COVID and more than 1,000 jobs [were added],” he said. “Other big employers like retail, trade, leisure, hospitality, and also the private education and health services, they all recovered back to pre-COVID level, or even knew each industry is about 700 jobs more than pre-COVID level.”

The state’s tourism sector saw a decline due in large part to the flooding in Yellowstone National Park in June and its cascading effect on visitation to Grand Teton National Park. Liu added that tourists had more options for vacation in 2022 than during the heights of the pandemic, which also played a role in its decline. Lodging sales declined by 2.1 percent for Teton County compared to 2021 and declined 1.1 percent for the state as a whole.

Wyoming’s agriculture sector did better than it had in previous years, a trend that played out nationally. After four consecutive quarters of declines, farm earnings in the state rebounded slightly in the third quarter but were still about 25 percent lower than in 2021 due to decreased payments from COVID-19 relief funds and increasing costs, such as livestock feed and equipment regularly used in agriculture.

The $54.8 million in investment income distributed to the state general fund was down somewhat compared to the same period in 2021. However, severance tax payments paid by the energy industry were up considerably in the third quarter, reaching $271.8 million generated during that time, which was 46.6 percent higher than in the previous year and was down only slightly compared to the previous quarter and the highest since 2008. It reflected heightened energy prices, including those for oil, natural gas, and coal.

Housing prices in the Cowboy State rose 14.4 percent in the third quarter of 2022, which was lower than the same time a year prior. The national average price of housing decelerated to 12.4 percent during the same period, marking the weakest increase since the fourth quarter of 2020. This equated to an 11.4 percent decline in building permits for new privately-owned single-family homes in the state, but increased dramatically for multi-family units by 142.8 percent. Housing in many communities statewide continues to be constrained.

Personal income and earnings, which includes all the earnings being made by a household in a given period, increased 4.6 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period in 2021. This rate exceeded the national rate of 4.1 percent during the same time. Total earnings in the state grew by 6.2 percent annually in the quarter while transfer receipts, an agreement between sellers and buyers, declined by 0.7 percent. Most sectors experienced expansion from 2021 with professional and business services and mining leading the way. Agriculture was notable in its losses overall during the period.

The outlook for 2023 is somewhat more bleak than what it was last year, though there are possible positive aspects to what may happen in Wyoming this year as well.

“We do expect [the] U.S. economy and Wyoming’s economy probably is going to be slower than 2022 in 2023 [for rate of growth],” Liu said. “For [the] U.S. economy, we expect probably by the end of 2023, the unemployment rate gradually coming up could be over four percent. for job growth, for average 2022, [the] U.S. monthly job growth [was] over 300,000. So, for 2023 [it’s] expected to be below 100,000 monthly job gains. So that's a tremendous decline and we also expect probably Wyoming’s economy [is] also somewhat fluid but should be still recovering. One of the main reasons we still expect the energy prices and your natural gas prices and coal prices [will be] relatively higher.”

Statistics on economic sectors in Wyoming's economy showing a more economically diverse labor market in 2022 compared to 2012.
Wyoming Department of Workforce Services
Statistics on economic sectors in Wyoming's economy showing a more economically diverse labor market in 2022 compared to 2012.

Liu also indicated that the state’s economy has experienced some diversification over the previous decade, with professional services, leisure and hospitality, and the finance and insurance sectors gaining a larger part of the state’s overall economic picture, adding several thousand jobs combined. But despite these gains, Liu said Wyoming remains one of the least economically diversified states overall.

Economic Analysis Division
Wyoming Department of Administration and Information

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
Related Content