By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
The indicators that point to Wyoming’s economic health improved slightly in June from May, but the state’s economic health remains worse than it was one year ago, according to a state report.
The state’s Economic Analysis Division, in its regular report on “Wyoming Economic Indicators” said unemployment rates, tax income in the mineral and hospitality sectors and total employment were all below where they stood in June of 2019.
“The Wyoming Economic Health Index reported an index value of 97.3 in June 2020,” the report said. “This value was higher than the May 2020 value of 95.5, but significantly lower than the June 2019 value of 108.”
However, the report also said declines in the state’s unemployment rate in recent months are a good sign for the economy.
“These improved unemployment rates over the last couple of months are a bright sign that the recovery from the Covid-19 business shutdowns has begun,” it said.
Each of the four indicators fell during the year, the report said, with sales and use tax revenue from mining dropping by more than 66% to total $3.8 million in June, compared to about $11.8 million in June of 2019.
In addition to economic difficulties created by the coronavirus pandemic, the state has been hit with a collapse in coal prices that has led to declines in its coal industry.
Lodging tax income also fell from 2019, dropping by 46.2% to total $1.7 million in June. Although the income was higher than it was in May, it also marked the fourth consecutive month that lodging tax revenues dipped below the previous year’s levels by 35% or more, the report said, due largely to the coronavirus.
“These large decreases in collections from lodging tax are not surprising because of the stay-at-home orders and lack of travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said.
The state’s unemployment rate of 7.6% in June was a drop from the rate of 8.8% seen in May, but it remained considerably higher than the rate of 3.6% seen in June 2019.
In addition, the number of people with jobs in June totaled 266,300, an increase of 2,500 from May, the report said, but a decline of 24,100 from June 2019.