When it comes to tipping back a drink – or five – Albany County ranks as the state’s booziest according to figures compiled by the State of Wyoming’s Economic Analysis Division.
According to the division’s annual report “Wyoming and County Profiles,” 22.9% of the adults 21 and older in Albany County, home to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, reported having five drinks or more on one occasion at least once in the past 30 days, the highest percentage in the state.
The figure was well above the statewide average of 17.7%. Big Horn County, conversely, had the lowest number of people consuming five drinks at 12.5%.
Albany County’s largest demographic is adults between 20 and 24 years old, comprising just under 22% of the county’s population, or 8,475 residents out of a total of 38,880.
Teton County was a close second to Albany for heavy drinkers at 22.1% of its population of 23,464, not a surprise to Jodie Pond, the county’s health director.
Pond noted that as a host to a resort community, Teton has a lot of young seasonal workers.
“We’re one of the highest in Wyoming for binge drinking,” she said. “We have a lot of seasonal, young 20-somethings that come here. So there’s a drinking culture that’s very prevalent here.”
Third on the list was Washakie at 20.6%, followed by Converse at 20.4% and Sweetwater at 20.2%, respectively.
Fourteen counties fell beneath the state-wide average for those consuming five drinks at a single event, including Campbell, Carbon, Crook, Freemont, Goshen, Hot Spring, Johnson, Laramie, Lincoln, Niobrara, Park, Sublette, Uinta and Weston.
Kelly Hunt, senior agent in the Compliance Department at the Wyoming Liquor Division, said there’s no way to quantify whether a particular county is serving up more liquor than another based on the number of liquor licenses authorized by the state. The licenses are awarded based on a population formula outlined in state statute or given on authorization to private resorts or other qualifying groups. As of May 25, there are 1,383 authorized liquor licenses in the state with the highest number in Laramie County at 109 and the lowest, 10, in Niobrara.
Along with drinking habits, the state-wide report analyzed 30 variables such as population, employment, industry and land ownership among other topics across Wyoming’s 23 counties.