Economist: Wyoming Economic Downturn Has Bottomed Out
A Senior State Economist says the latest numbers seem to show the economic downturn which has plagued Wyoming over the past year may have hit bottom.
Jim Robinson says he is hopeful things may begin to pick up over the next few months, although he says it could be 2017 before things really start to improve significantly.
The latest numbers were outlined in the "Wyoming Insight" report issued this week by the Wyoming Division of Economic Analysis.
Robinson says that even if the most recent numbers aren't showing a lot of improvement yet, at least things aren't getting any worse. He says one indicator of that is the fact the state doesn't seem to be losing jobs in the latest report. Wyoming has lost roughly 9,000 jobs since about this time last year, and that number hasn't been changing much recently.
He says another hopeful sign is that the price of natural gas has now improved and averaged about $2.61 per mcf (thousand cubic feet) in July. He says the price will likely have to get into the range 0f $3 to $3.50 per mcf to spark much natural gas activity in Wyoming, adding "we'll hopefully see that next year."
But the price of crude oil went down in July, into an average range of about $45 a barrel compared to around $48-$49 in June. Robinson says the problem with crude oil is that a glut of petroleum on the world market continues to keep prices down.
Robinson has said he thinks a price of crude oil that stays consistently above $50 dollars a barrel for a period of time will be needed to reinvigorate the Wyoming oil industry.
He says the good news is that the oil oversupply is gradually decreasing, but adds it "may be a while" before the price hits the $50 plus range with any consistency.