Cheyenne, Casper Economies Show Differences
A top state economist says Cheyenne's economy is a mixed bag right now, while Casper continues to struggle because of the downturn in energy prices.
Jim Robinson says figures from Cheyenne for March of this year show quite a few positives, including an increase in private sector jobs of 700 compared to February.
While the overall number of jobs in Cheyenne had been declining from October of 2015 through February 2016, the March increase meant the year over year comparison with March of 2015 was actually up by about 100 jobs, or O.2 percent.
By comparison, Casper lost 3,100 jobs over the same period, a decline of about 7.2 percent. That was despite an increase of 200 jobs in March 2016 compared to the month before.
Overall, Cheyenne scored 103.26 on Robinson's Business Cycle Index for March, down from a score of 105.65 a year earlier. But Casper's score on the same index fell from 103.21 in March 2015 to a score of 94.49 in March 2016.
Robinson says his index is designed to give an overall measurement of the health of the economy. Robinson says the difference between the two economies can mostly be explained by the fact that Casper is very dependent on the energy industry for employment and economic growth.
While Cheyenne is feeling some effects from low energy prices, the Cheyenne-area economy is far more diversified.
He says statewide there are some signs of hope, including a gradual increase in the price of oil. But he says it's hard to know when that trend will start to revive Wyoming's oil industry.
He says construction and tourism should also pick up across the state as the weather turns warmer.