A new state report seems to show Wyoming's oil and gas industries are gradually picking up steam.

The July 2017 'Wyoming Insight' report shows a modest improvement in both oil and gas prices in July compared to June.

The gains are not large.

Crude oil prices went from an average price of $45.17 per barrel for West Texas Intermediate crude oil in June to $45.84 per barrel in July. The price per barrel last month was $1.15 higher than in July of 2016, however.

The increase in the average price of natural gas was even smaller between June and July of this year, going from $2.62 per British Thermal Unit in June to $2.64 last month.

But even though the price for both energy products is going up only incrementally, there are other hopeful signs.

For example, 11,600 people were employed in the two industries in June, an increase of 1,900 from June of 2016. The June 2017 oil rig count in Wyoming stood at 14, while the conventional gas rig count was 11, according to the report.

Year-to-date applications to drill for oil in Wyoming reached 3,938 by the end of June 2017, compared to 2,937 in June of 2016, or an increase of 1,001.

Senior State Economist Jim Robinson recently said that the oil industry, in particular, has learned how to operate more efficiently during the lean times it has experienced over the past couple of years.

That's a good news/bad news situation for Wyoming's economy. The good news is that oil companies have learned how to make a profit even when prices are lower, meaning they will continue to operate.

But the flip side of that is that even if prices return to the levels of a few years ago, the companies may never need to hire the same number of employees in Wyoming.