Sublette economy recovering slower than most of Wyoming

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Wyoming’s economy continued to rebound in the second fiscal quarter of 2021 but at a slower pace than the majority of the United States, according to an economic summary report released earlier this week.

The report that was released earlier this week – which considers economic indicators like employment by industry, income, housing, taxable sales, tourism, agriculture and selected revenue – showed Sublette County experienced a slight 3.1-percent rise in taxable sales in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the second quarter of 2020.

Sublette County’s slight rise was on par with neighboring Sweetwater County and fell in the bottom half of Wyoming counties. Wyoming experienced an average 12.1-percent growth although that is skewed by Teton County’s massive 87.2-percent rise in the same timeframe.

The state’s chief economist with the Division of Economic Analysis, Dr. Wenlin Liu, said the state’s lagging recovery in the oil and gas industry contributed to the lagging labor market improvements.

“Approximately 10,700 or 4.1-percent less payroll jobs were recorded in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the prior year, led by (minus)1,300 (8.1 percent) in the mineral extraction and (minus)1,600 (7.5 percent) in construction industries,” Liu said in the report.

Liu said that despite those lagging sectors, Wyoming nearly entirely recovered from a COVID-impacted second quarter a year ago due to rises in the leisure and hospitality sector, as well as motor vehicle and retail sales.

Of course there was also tourism, which contributed to record numbers in national parks as well as massive taxable sales in Teton County.

“Visitation figures for both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks were the highest recorded for the second quarter in history, mostly attributed to visitors’ outdoor sightseeing preference and the general booming travel and tourism activities from the pent-up demand,” Liu wrote.

Home values in Wyoming also continued to trend upward by an estimated 13.6 percent. That outperformed expectations among the real estate industry. The economic report suggested that rise was supported by a resilient demand, particularly low mortgage rates, and increasingly constrained supply. However, the report does suggest reduced affordability may contribute to a cooling housing market further into the year.

Numbers indicate the state’s agricultural sector rebounded since the third quarter of 2020, when the supply chain was disrupted by COVID-19 and consumer demand patterns. Farm earnings continue to recover from the start of 2021, as have livestock prices. Financial conditions of farm borrowers continued to improve according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, likely because interest rates on agricultural loans remained at a historic low throughout the first half of 2021.