Wyoming's economy continues to rebound, although at a moderate pace, from the severe downturn from more than three years ago, according to the report on Wednesday from the state's Department of Administration & Information.

Total employment grew 1.0 percent, or 2,800 jobs, from October through December compared to the previous quarter in 2017, according to the report by chief economist Wenlin Liu of the Economic Analysis Division.

That marked the largest year-over-year growth since the first quarter of 2015, Liu wrote.

Likewise, the state's unemployment rate dropped slightly in the fourth quarter to 4.1 percent, slightly higher than the national rate of 3.8 percent.

"Job gains were broad-based, and most private industrial sectors experienced increases," Liu wrote.

Some of the improvement in the economy came from the mineral extraction industry especially in the Powder River Basin, even though oil prices contracted nearly 30 percent from the summer to late 2018.

The industry added about 300 jobs or an increase from 1.5 percent from 2018, and industries related to extraction -- construction, manufacturing, professional services -- grew faster, too.

The leisure and hospitality industry lost the most jobs, or 1.3 percent.

Likewise, the government sector continued to show a smaller number of jobs than the previous year.

 

These are other highlights from the new report about the fourth quarter:

Personal Income and Earnings

Total personal income -- income received by all people from all sources -- grew 4.8 percent over the previous year. Nationally, personal income increased 4.6 percent.

Total earnings in the state grew 5.2 percent annually in the quarter, while property income and transfer receipts each increased 4.3 percent. Earnings, led by the construction industry, grew at 14.9 percent, followed by professional and business services, mining, utilities, and leisure and hospitality.

 

Housing

The statewide home price increased 3.9 percent in the fourth quarter, while the national average price appreciation slowed to 5.7 percent.

In Wyoming, single-family building permits for new privately-owned residential construction were 2.3 percent lower than the previous year level.

Nationwide, declining housing affordability and rising mortgage rates were shackling housing demand, and mortgage applications were flat.

 

Taxable Sales

Total taxable sales grew 9.1 percent to $4.8 billion.

Increases occurred in most sectors, with the construction sector growing at 32.5 percent.

Wyoming Department of Administration and Information

The mining sector grew 15.5 percent due to increased sales of equipment, supplies, and services from new exploration and production.

However, the fourth quarter amount in mining was still 27.2 percent less than the fourth quarter of 2014 before the energy downturn.

Traditionally, about one-fifth of tax collections are from the mining industry. Therefore the changes in total sales and use tax collections in Wyoming have been greatly affected by the fluctuation in mineral activities.

The retail trade industry, the largest in terms of sales tax contribution, grew 10.1 percent.

The public administration sector, which reflects automobile sales, showed an increase of 9.1 percent.

Wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and other services showed declines.

Statewide, 19 out of 23 counties experienced increases in taxable sales.

 

Tourism

The number of recreational visitations to Yellowstone National Park reached 254,305 in the fourth quarter of 2018, up 4.3 percent from the previous year.

Grand Teton National Park had 300,985 visits, up 6.1 percent.

In general, the primary drivers for the fluctuation in lodging sales are visitations to the national parks and mineral activities.

 

Agriculture

Nationally, the index of prices received by farmers for all livestock and products increased slightly in the fourth quarter of 2018, but the price level was lower than a year ago.

The Jan. 1, 2019, inventory of all cattle and calves in Wyoming totaled 1.30 million head, down 2 percent from a year earlier, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

State revenue

Investment income into the state general fund, including income from the Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund and state agency pooled income accounts, reached $62.6 million, 7.7 percent higher than a year earlier.

The $182.7 million in mineral severance taxes in the fourth quarter was 12.3 percent higher than the previous year, and it was the highest amount recorded since the fourth quarter of 2014.