Sublette takes hit in latest economic summary report

WYOMING – The Wyoming Department of Administration and Information released the state’s Economic Summary Report for the fourth quarter of 2020 on Monday. The quarterly report highlights the state’s economic condition based upon multiple factors.

Dr. Wenlin Liu, the state’s chief economist in the Economic Analysis Division, said the economy continues to rebound, mirroring progress on a national trend. The “dragging pace” of the state’s oil and gas activities is hampering Wyoming’s economic recovery, he said.

In a corresponding release, he said approximately 17,700 or 6.1 percent less payroll jobs were recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the previous year. That includes 5,900 less jobs in the mineral extraction industry, a 28.7-percent decline.

“Taxable sales in the fourth quarter of 2020 declined 9.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019. The leading contributor for the poor performance was the substantial decline in the mineral extraction industry which contracted nearly historical 63.1 percent in a year-over-year comparison,” Liu said.

Wyoming’s taxable sales numbers shrunk 7.3 percent to $5.2 billion in the third quarter last year compared to the year prior – that included decreases in most economic sectors, most notably the mining industry. Oil and gas extraction taxable sales fell 65.2 percent due to declining sales of equipment, supplies and services from the energy exploration and production activity. That’s the largest year-over-year drop in the state’s history. Sublette County experienced the most drastic percentage change among counties with a 48.2-percent drop in taxable sales. Campbell County had the second-largest drop at 32.5 percent.

Carbon (95.3 percent) and Albany (46.5 percent) counties experienced the largest increases in taxable sales amounts, reflected by boosts in wind energy activities.

The retail trade industry, the largest collector of sales tax contribution, experienced its first decline since the first quarter of 2017 with a 2.4-percent drop.

Total personal income in the fourth quarter increased 0.4 percent. That’s after accounting for the 26.7-percent decline in earnings for the average mining industry worker.

“However, the increases in personal transfer receipts (government payment from the CARES Act) more than offset decreases in workers’ earnings,” Liu said.

Recreational visitations to Yellowstone National Park and to Grand Teton National Park were the highest recorded for the fourth quarter in history. Lodging sales in Teton County, however, dropped by 16.4 percent – slightly better than the lodging drop of 22.3 percent across the state.

Agricultural index prices for all U.S. livestock and products dropped to 84, the lowest amount in nearly 10 years. According to the report, “The COVID-19 pandemic not only disrupted the supply chain, but also severely affected demand patterns from different consumers.”

Overall, the $104.8 million in mineral severance taxes generated in the fourth quarter was substantially higher than the previous quarter, while also falling 29.1-percent below the same quarter a year prior.