Wyoming’s Economy, Labor Market Were Declining Before COVID Hit; Housing Strengthens
The COVID-19 pandemic further damaged Wyoming's slowdown in overall labor market and other economic performance from January through March, according to a report published Monday.
"Oil and natural gas prices, as well as coal production dropped quite dramatically amid the downfall in global energy demand," said Dr. Wenlin Liu, chief economist with the state's Economic Analysis Division.
"Taxable sales in the first quarter of 2020 experienced the first contraction in three years, and the amount of mineral severance taxes generated was the lowest since the second quarter of 2016," Liu said in a prepared statement accompanying the research.
However, the housing market has grown for home sellers, he said.
Single family home prices grew by 9.9% in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2019.
The negative economic effects resulting from COVID-19 protective measures have broadly peaked, Liu wrote citing Moody's Analytics.
While the global economy begins a "slow and uncertain recovery," a second wave of the pandemic could result in a second round of protective measures "that would drive world economies into a protracted downturn," he wrote.
Wyoming's economy rebounded from October 2018 to the fourth quarter of 2019, but that recovering already slowed by earlier this year before COVID-19.
Total employment decreased 0.4% in the first quarter compared to the national job growth rate of 1.2%. The unemployment rate increased to 3.8%, slightly higher than the national average.
Jobs declined in about half the industrial sectors including oil and gas extraction, wholesale trade and information. On the other hand, minor gains occurred in education, health services, transportation, warehousing, utilities, and leisure and hospitality sectors.
Wyoming’s total personal income grew 2.8% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the previous year, but slower than in October through December.
U.S. personal income increased 3.3% during the same period. Personal income is the income received by all residents from all sources.
Earnings in most sectors grew from a year ago, led by the farm sector’s growth rate of 32.6%. The sectors that experienced declines were mining, leisure and hospitality.
Based on sales and use tax collections, total taxable sales in most economic sectors shrunk 5.7% to $4.2 billion in the first quarter of 2020.
The mining sector decreased by 27.2% due to declining sales of equipment, supplies, and services. This was the largest year-over-year drop since the fourth quarter of 2016.
Utilities, construction, and transportation and warehousing industries also experienced double-digit declines.
On the other hand, automotive, machinery, and equipment rental and leasing grew by 19.8%. Retail, the largest industry in terms of sales tax contributions, grew 6.0%.
Statewide, 13 of 23 counties experienced increases in taxable sales.
Visits to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park declined compared to last year, probably because of their closures in late March.
Total lodging sales were down 2.2% in Teton County, and down 9.9% statewide for the first quarter.
The index of prices received by farmers for all U.S. livestock and products was higher in the first quarter of 2020, but it was slightly lower than a year ago. Between the fourth quarter of 2014 and 2016, farm earnings experienced a dramatic downward trend amid strong supply and weak global demand for beef products, but stabilized, and accelerated in 2019.
The amount of investment income distributed to the state general fund, including income from the Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund and state agency pooled income accounts, reached $55.3 million in the first quarter of 2020, which was 26.4% lower than a year ago.
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