Oil, natural gas contribute to economic growth

GILLETTE — Wyoming’s economy continued to rebound in the third quarter of 2021, but its growth has slowed down. And thanks to the highest prices of oil and natural gas seen in several years, the mining industry had a relatively good quarter.

On the whole, Wyoming recorded about 6,800 or 2.4 percent more payroll jobs in the third quarter of 2021 compared to 2020. Leisure and hospitality led this growth with 4,300 more jobs, an 11.9-percent increase, during that time.

Even with that growth, Wyoming trailed behind the nation as a whole, which saw job growth of 4.6 percent.

On the bright side, the state’s top industry, mining, saw moderate growth, increasing 5.9 percent in the third quarter thanks to a rebound in oil and natural gas activities. It was the first year-over-year increase for mining since the second quarter of 2019, said Wenlin Liu, chief economist with Wyoming Division of Economic Analysis, in a press release.

In the third quarter, $185.4 million was generated in mineral severance taxes. That was about a 26-percent increase from 2020, and the highest quarterly amount since the fourth quarter of 2014.

Liu noted that it was due to oil and natural gas, which saw their highest prices since 2014 and 2008, respectively.

Total taxable sales grew by just 1.5% in the third quarter of 2021. Liu attributed this weak performance to the fading activities in wind power construction. Otherwise, both leisure and hospitality and retail trade had strong expansions, passing 2020 levels by double digits.

In Campbell County, taxable sales grew by 18 percent, the sixth highest in the state.

Visitation figures for both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks were the highest recorded for the third quarter in history.

“The record visitations were mostly attributed to visitors’ outdoor sightseeing preference and the booming travel and tourism activities from pent up demand,” Liu said.

Lodging sales that quarter were up 55.7 percent across the state, in large part due to inflation, Liu said.

On the home front, the price of a single-family home increased 14.9 percent statewide, outperforming expectations but trailing the national average of 18.5 percent. It has been supported by “resilient demand” due to low mortgage rates and “increasingly constrained supply,” but Liu said the housing market could possibly slow down in 2022 as housing supply catches up with the demand.