By Renée Jean, Business and Tourism reporter
As speculation over the potential for a national recession continues, the latest national and Wyoming reports so far aren’t showing signs typical of a recession.
Wyoming’s MACRO report highlights a 2.7% increase in total jobs through August year over year, which works out to 7,400 jobs added in the state.
That’s a solid pillar for the state’s economy, Dylan Bainer, who prepared the report, told Cowboy State Daily.
“I think that a lot of the talk is, you know, when’s the recession going to hit?” He said. “You know, (we’ve got) rising interest rates and inflation and all that. But yeah, the one thing that’s not coinciding with that, I guess, is the labor market.
“So far, the jobs and the unemployment rate are still staying strong. And so that’s kind of the one pillar of the recession picture that’s still standing strong.”
About half that increase is from oil and gas jobs, Bainer said, and overall job figures are now about 4,000 shy of pre-pandemic levels.
“Pre-pandemic, we were around 290,000 total jobs, and right now they just released September, and the number is 286,000,” Bainer said.
Sales Tax Revenues Up
Demand for goods, meanwhile, also seems to remain strong, according to the report. Statewide sales and use tax collections are up 17% for the first three months of Fiscal Year 2023, July through September.
Some of that jump in sales tax collection is because of inflation, Bainer said, and a large portion also was driven by a boost to Wyoming’s energy industries. But retail trade was still a large contributor to the upswing.
“Sales taxes are obviously just based off of the price of goods, he said. “So, inflation is, again, a big factor as to why sales tax collections are so high. But I think even if you took out the inflation, you know, we’re still spending. Activity for consumers has not slowed down.”
One thing that has slowed down is the gross domestic product, or the overall market value of goods and services. Wyoming’s 2022 second-quarter real GDP dropped 4.8%, which was the largest decrease in the Rocky Mountain Region.
The region as a whole dropped 1.7% and was down nationally by 0.6%.
Bainer said the largest contributors to the GDP drop came from agriculture, mining, construction, and manufacturing.
Input costs for agriculture especially have been at record highs.
“I would definitely guess that’d be a big factor (in agriculture’s GDP drop),” Bainer said. “I would assume that’s been a huge factor for every industry. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons, I think that you know people are kind of expecting this recession to come.”
Another bright spot in the report for state revenues were severance tax collections for July through September. Those are up 77.4% for the same period in 2021.
Nationwide, economists estimated that the economy grew 2.3% last quarter. Meanwhile, GDP estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis are expected later today. Figures for national labor markets also show strong numbers and low unemployment in the latest reports.