A Look Into Wyoming's Economic Indicators

The November 2017 issue of the Wyoming Economic Indicators (WEI) report is available at the State of Wyoming's Economic Analysis Division website ai.wyo.gov/economic-analysis .

Within the WEI is the Wyoming Business-Cycle Index (WBCI), a coincident economic indicator that is designed to provide a current assessment of the state’s economy.

There are four main components of the WBCI.

Two of these components, unemployment rate and private sector weekly wages, are included to capture aggregate economic activity for Wyoming.

The third component, mining taxes, gauges economic activity related to mineral production in the state while the fourth component, national park visits, serves as a proxy for the impact of tourism.

SUMMARY: The Wyoming Business-Cycle Index (WBCI) registered an index value of 98.49 in September 2017 (see Chart 1), a slight increase compared to the August 2017 value of 98.23 and considerably higher by comparison to the September 2016 value of 95.95.

For the April through September period, the WBCI recorded year-over-year increases (see Chart 2) every month with the August 2017 index value seeing the largest increase at 3.16 percent over the previous year. As Chart 3 demonstrates, three of the four components of the WBCI were positive in September.

The state's unemployment rate was at 4.0 percent in September, a significant improvement over the previous year's 5.1 percent. The private wages component increased as two of its three sub-components, hourly wages and hours worked each increased. The third sub-component, private jobs, declined.

The state's collection of the 4 percent sales and use tax associated with the mining sector had improved as well. The last component, visits to the state's national parks, recorded a decrease of 0.09 percent, reflecting the slowdown in park visits in 2017 compared to 2016.

The total number of nonfarm payroll jobs in Wyoming decreased at a 1.1 percent pace in September in a year ago comparison as seen in Chart 4.

The September job count was 275,200, lower than the September 2016 level by 3,100 jobs. The mining sector (+2,300) added the most jobs in September while leisure & hospitality incurred the largest decline (-1,800 jobs).

Jobs associated with Wyoming's private sector decreased in September by 2,200 compared to August (see Chart 5).

The September 2017 private job count was 205,600, lower than the September 2016 level by 1,500 jobs. The state's weekly earnings rose in September to $830.42 compared to August's $813.97 and much higher than the level attained in September 2016 of $775.56.

The weekly earnings indicator is a product of average weekly hours multiplied by average hourly earnings. Weekly hours rose to 34.5 in September 2017 from 33.3 in a year ago comparison. Hourly earnings also increased to $24.07 compared to a level of $23.29 reached one year ago.

Wyoming's collection of the 4 percent sales and use tax related to the mining sector increased to $10.9 million in September of 2017 (these are actually October 2017 collections that mostly represent sales that took place in September), $4.8 million higher than September collections from a year ago (see Chart 6).

After nine months into calendar year 2017, year-to-date mining collections were behind the 3-year average over the same number of months by $26.1 million.

For the first nine months of 2017, visits to the state's national parks were running slightly behind the previous year's attendance as seen in Chart 7. Cumulative park visits by the end of September were lagging last year's pace by just 0.7 percent.

Robust park attendance in August, aided in part by the solar eclipse on the 21st of that month, helped drive recreation visits to near 2016 levels.

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