Sublette, Wyoming economy grew slightly in past year

WYOMING – The latest Wyoming Economic Summary Report highlighting the third quarter of 2021 was released earlier this week and showed much of Wyoming’s economy has recovered from the initial holes punched by the state’s first surge of COVID-19. More payroll jobs and more taxable sales were added leading up to the third quarter of 2021.

On the whole, Wyoming recorded approximately 6,800 more payroll jobs in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the previous year. That’s about a 2.4-percent increase. Leisure and hospitality was the leading sector of growth with 4,300 more jobs (a 11.9-percent increase from the year before).

“Despite the surge of the Delta variant, Wyoming’s economy continued to rebound in the third quarter, but the pace has decelerated,” Dr. Wenlin Liu, the chief economist with Wyoming Division of Economic Analysis, said. “With a strong rebound in energy prices, employment in the mining industry showed a year-over-year increase (5.9 percent), the first rebound since the second quarter of 2019.”

Total taxable sales in Wyoming averaged 1.5 percent more in the third quarter 2021 than the year before, although that number is slightly misleading. Sublette County was one of the 17 counties that experienced some degree of growth in taxable sales during that time frame, measuring a 1.7-percent increase (the lowest of all county increases). But fading activities in wind power construction contributed to significant movements – a 59.8-percent drop in Carbon County and a 42.4-percent decrease in Converse County.

Meanwhile, leisure and hospitality, as well as retail trade, demonstrated strong expansion.

“Indeed, these two sectors both surpassed their pre-COVID level of the third quarter 2019 by double digits,” Dr. Liu said.

The state was also buoyed by record visitations at both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Dr. Liu pointed to sightseeing preference and escape from possible COVID-related isolations, as well as pent-up demand, as possible contributing factors for those visitations.

Mineral severance tax generated during the third quarter of 2021 were substantially higher than the previous year, even registering the largest amount in seven years.

“The petroleum prices in the third quarter of 2021 was the highest since the third quarter of 2014, while natural gas prices were the highest since the third quarter of 2008,” Dr. Liu said.

Wyoming’s home values continued to trend upward as well. A 14.9-percent increase outperformed expectations, which Dr. Liu said was supported by a resilient demand and increasingly constrained supply. He also acknowledged noticeably low mortgage rates as a contributing factor.