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Reports: Wyoming economic downturn leveling out


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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — New reports show Wyoming's current economic downturn appears to be leveling out.

Two new reports from the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division show the downturn appeared to hit its low point in the first and second quarters of the year and recent data shows the decline has eased, The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/2dkq5I1 ).

"Compared with the second quarter of 2015 it's still a deep downturn; however, the decline has clearly eased," said economist Wenlin Liu, who wrote the reports with Amy Bittner. "You can see that from the employment change, taxable sales change; even severance taxes are more stable."

Employment is down year-over-year, with 8,050 fewer jobs in the second quarter of 2016 versus 2015, with nearly every job sector seeing a decline in employment. Mining and energy were hurt the most with a 20 percent decline. Only two job sectors saw growth: government and private educational and health services.

Liu said oil and gas prices have begun to rebound in the third quarter, improving the prospects for Wyoming's mineral extraction industry for the coming months. He said jobless claims have been declining, with no jobless claims increases for the mining industry in three months.

"Even the natural gas price benchmark is up, which makes coal companies more competitive with natural gas," he said. "Coal production the first half of 2016 is down almost 30 to 40 percent, but the third quarter has seen a really big increase. Compared to the previous year, it's only 10 percent lower."

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Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, http://www.wyomingnews.com

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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