CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming’s economy, which relies heavily on the mineral extraction industry, contracted during the first half of this year, according to federal statistics.
The state’s gross domestic product shrank 2.3 percent in the second quarter after a 6.1 percent drop during the first three months of the year, data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows.
“That 2 percent doesn’t look like a big number, but that’s 2 percent off a quarter that dropped 6 percent. That’s noteworthy,” Jim Robinson, a state economist, told the Casper Star-Tribune.
The statistics are another indication of the downturn in the energy industry.
The American benchmark for crude averaged $42.79 in November, down $75.81 from the same month last year. Natural gas prices at the Opal hub in western Wyoming were $2.12 per million British Thermal Units in November, compared to $4.1 per million BTUs last year.
It also highlighted the dramatic reversal in Wyoming’s fortunes.
The state posted a 10.8 percent increase in gross domestic product during the fourth quarter of 2014 before cutbacks in the oil and gas industry began to take their toll in 2015.
The mining sector, which includes oil and gas, was down 5.43 percent in Wyoming compared with the previous quarter, the bureau reported.
Other energy reliant states also saw GDP shrink. Oklahoma (-2.4 percent), West Virginia (-2 percent), North Dakota (-1.2 percent) all posted GDP declines.
There have been other indicators of Wyoming’s economic troubles in recent months.
Sales and use tax collections through the first four months of fiscal year 2016 were down 16 percent, or $50 million, compared to the same time last year. Campbell and Natrona counties recorded the biggest drops, with tax collections decreasing by $14.3 million and $12.2 million, respectively.
Mining and logging tax collections were down $27.5 million, or 42.5 percent.
The state’s energy sector had 4,400 fewer jobs in October of this year compared with the same month in 2014, a decrease of 16.2 percent.
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com
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