Economy

Starting today, small businesses can apply for the nearly $350 billion in loans available through the economic rescue plan from Congress.

The loan program, known as the Paycheck Protection Program, is intended to support businesses so they can ride out the tough economic times and, most importantly, assist with either keeping current workers or rehire those who were laid off.

Updated at 10:09 a.m. ET

For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. suffered a net loss of jobs as the coronavirus began to take hold in the country. But a monthly snapshot from the Labor Department shows only the first pinpricks of what will soon be a gaping wound.

Updated at 10:38 a.m. ET

The number of new people claiming unemployment benefits totaled a staggering 6.648 million last week — doubling the record set a week earlier, the Labor Department said Thursday.

In the prior week, ending March 21, a revised 3.307 million initial claims were filed.

In just two weeks, nearly all of the jobs gained in the last five years have been lost.

Flickr Creative Commons/lucas-dtown2

The number of unemployment insurance claims has spiked due to the number of people getting laid off in response to the pandemic, mostly in the leisure and hospitality industry, according to a special report by the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services released last week.

State of Wyoming

Governor Mark Gordon has appointed the other four top elected officials in the state to explore some challenges facing Wyoming and try and find solutions.

One interesting committee chaired by State Auditor Kristi Racines is looking at the business and financial sector as Wyoming faces a devastating down. Bob Beck begins the interview by noting that many small business people are scared.

U.S. Capitol Building
Public Domain

At the start of the year the U.S. economy was soaring, but now most everything has come to a government mandated halt which is rippling across the economy… which has been a shock for most lawmakers, including Wyoming Senator John Barrasso.

Brocken Inaglory via CC BY-SA 3.0

Every year, thousands of American and international tourists pass through Cody as they leave or enter Yellowstone National Park. The summer tourism season officially starts May 1, when the park's east gate opens. That's usually a busy time, but things might be different this year.

https://www.westernaf.net/

The coronavirus pandemic has put an indefinite hold on live events, and musicians are among those losing out. So performers are turning to the internet as a virtual concert venue.

Main Street, looking south toward Canyonlands National Park, in Moab, Utah
Hurricanehink via CC BY-SA 3.0

Recreation-based counties are seeing higher rates of COVID-19 than other rural counties, according to an analysis from the Daily Yonder, a non-profit publication that focuses on rural issues.

Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET

President Trump has signed a historic $2 trillion economic recovery package into law Friday afternoon, shortly after the House of Representatives approved the bill.

In an Oval Office ceremony Friday, the president thanked Republicans and Democrats "for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first" to pass the legislation. Trump was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. No Democrats were present at the signing.

Updated at 10:51 a.m. ET

A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country. The Labor Department's report for the week ended March 21 was one of the first official indicators of how many people have suddenly been forced out of work nationally.

In the prior report, for the week ended March 14, initial claims totaled 282,000.

State of Wyoming

As the state and nation battle COVID-19, State Auditor Kristi Racines said that finding ways to help struggling businesses and those who have been laid off is difficult.

Updated at 11:47 p.m. ET

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a $2 trillion relief package Wednesday night designed to alleviate some of the worst effects of the swift economic downturn currently underway as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of the 96-0 vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told lawmakers, "Our nation obviously is going through a kind of crisis that is totally unprecedented in living memory."

COVID-19 fears have forced a lot of bars and restaurants to close across the Mountain West. That leaves workers in a tough spot. But some communities have found a creative way for would-be customers to chip in.


State of Wyoming

The state of Wyoming is issuing an order to close all non-essential personal services. The closure applies to cosmetology services including nail salons and barber shops. It will also affect massage parlors, tattoo, body art and piercing shops.

The United States is heading into a very sharp downturn in the next three months. That much seems certain.

What is unique this time is that we as a country are willing it to happen.

Collectively — intentionally — we are putting much of the economy on lockdown. The priorities are clear: save lives and keep hospitals and emergency rooms from being overwhelmed. For now, that means America is an economic ghost town.

Downtown Laramie
Nyttend

The Wyoming State Health Officer, with the support of Governor Mark Gordon, found it's necessary to close public spaces for a two-week period in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Updated at 10:13 a.m. ET

New claims for unemployment benefits climbed to 281,000 last week as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses and left people out of work, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the highest level since Sept. 2, 2017, when they totaled 299,000.

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing federal, state and local governments to take drastic measures. And in Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak did something never done before: he ordered all casinos in the state to shut down for 30 days.

While some states are getting deluged with so many unemployment claims their computers are crashing, President Trump continues to downplay the impact of the coronavirus on the U.S. economy.

Trump dismissed a worst-case scenario described by his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in which U.S. unemployment could soar as high as 20%.

"We're no way near it," Trump said.

wyomingmedicalcenter.org

State and local governments around our region are reacting to the coronavirus pandemic. A new analysis finds some are more aggressive than others. The Mountain West states got the least aggressive ranking, with Wyoming ranked dead last.

Restaurants, bars and major ski resorts have begun to temporarily shut down across the Mountain West this week in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. But economists said it’s still too early to fully understand the breadth of how these closures will impact the region’s booming tourism economy.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Legislature wrapped up its work this week with concerns about the future. A downturn in oil prices and worries about a drop in investment income has lawmakers thinking that they may need to make some difficult decisions in the not-too-distant future.

www.nrel.gov

There were only six bills centered on renewables this session, but you'd be forgiven to think there were many more. Even when it wasn't the topic of conversation, renewables were on lawmaker's minds.

Support for our series Private Prison: Locking Down The Facts came from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit news organization that partners with journalists and newsrooms to support in-depth reporting and education around the globe.

WTI Crude pricing falling 20 percent since Friday, March 6.
oilprice.com

Oil prices fell 25 percent today in their steepest drop since 1991. The record stumble raises concerns of lasting impacts to Wyoming's revenue picture and energy producers in the state.

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.

Catherine Wheeler

On a cloudless February morning, Sheridan residents and visitors packed onto Broadway Street's sidewalks behind bright orange barricades that blocked a long ice path down the street. Skijoring Horses, riders and skiers, lined up around the start line at the north end of the road.

The director of the Powell Economic Partnership (PEP) is stepping down after six years at the helm. Christine Bekes was the first full time director of PEP and oversaw Powell's growing presence in the state. Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska sat down with Bekes to reflect on her time in the position. Bekes said having a community development strategic plan completed just before she started made her understand what the community valued right from the beginning.

Online GIS Maps; Cooper McKim

Wyoming legislators are working through two bills that would lay the groundwork to study and potentially buy over a million acres of land and four million acres of mineral rights across the southern part of the state.

The 1,010,900 acres of land in question sits within six Wyoming counties: Lincoln, Uinta, Carbon, Albany, Laramie, and Sweetwater. Local officials are beginning to grapple with the potential risks and rewards of the deal.

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