cost of living

Wyoming Women's Foundation

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Wyoming 2020 recently came out. It's a study that takes into account all kinds of factors for working families, including how many adults are in your household, the number of children, or which county you live in. And then it works like a calculator to determine the amount of income required to meet basic needs at a minimally adequate level.

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In another sign that Wyoming’s economy is improving, statewide inflation increased by just over two percent in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Wyoming Economic Analysis Division

According to the most recent cost of living index report, Wyoming experienced a 1.1 percent rate of inflation and saw the cost of living rise slightly in the second quarter of 2017 compared to the previous year. 

The report is published biannually and measures six consumer spending categories, including apparel, food, medical, transportation, housing, and recreation & personal care.

Governor Mead’s supplemental budget request released Monday includes 15 million dollars for an inflation adjustment for Wyoming’s K-12 schools.

Cost-of-living adjustments have not been figured into school funding in recent years, and a coalition of school districts has been meeting with the Governor and lawmakers to push for the funding.

Sweetwater County School District Two Superintendent Donna Little- Kaumo is part of that group. She says the recommendation made by the Joint Education Committee in October—and seconded by Mead on Monday—is the right move.

The Legislature’s Joint Education Interim Committee voted 10 to three Thursday to support providing adjustments to school funding based on inflation.

The state is supposed to account for annual fluctuations in the costs of goods and labor when funding schools, but these inflation adjustments haven’t been made for the past four years. A coalition of school districts who spoke before the Committee Thursday say this has cost Wyoming’s school districts more than $150 million—and led to salary freezes, layoffs and program cuts.

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This week, 9 school district superintendents met with Governor Mead to contend that the state has underfunded its K-12 schools. While Wyoming ranks near the top of the pack when it comes to per-student funding, this coalition of districts says that funding has not been properly adjusted for inflation each year—and the shortages have meant cutting crucial programs in some districts. But some lawmakers say it’s more complicated than that.

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A new report out from the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information shows that the state continues to do well economically, but housing costs are rising in several counties. Converse County has had a twenty percent increase in both apartment rent and house payments. Teton continues to be the most expensive county to live in comparatively.

Amy Bittner is a senior economist with the department and says the state overall is doing well.

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After a lengthy discussion, the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee voted to support a two-percent external cost adjustment for public schools. 

The external cost adjustment would address inflation issues within the school funding model, and is used by most districts to pay for salary increases.  Lawmakers have been reluctant to support an ECA over the last several years due to budget concerns, and the appropriations committee was told that spending for education in Wyoming remains among the top 10 in the country. 

The State’s Economics Division has released a Cost Living Index report for 2012 which shows an overall increase in Wyoming’s cost of living. The Index compares state economics to the National Consumer Price Index, which looks at costs over time in specific consumer goods categories, such as housing and food. For the fourth quarter, Wyoming saw a slightly higher increase than the National Average. Senior State Economist, Amy Bittner, says that counties in Central and Northwest Wyoming have seen the largest cost of living increases from 2011 to 2012.

The cost of living in Wyoming rose in the second quarter of 2012, compared with the same time last year. That’s according to the state Economic Analysis Division, which calculated a 2.4-percent inflation across six cost of living categories, including rent and food prices. Wyoming Senior Economist Amy Bittner says that’s higher than the national average. “The us over that same time period, measured by the US Consumer Price index was 1.7 percent,” Bittner said. Bittner says a 3.4-percent rise in the cost of rent statewide accounted for a large portion of the state’s inflation.