National parks reopen (copy)

Lodging in Yellowstone National Park, including the historic Old Faithful Inn, was closed in the spring due to the coronavirus. Recent statistics put numbers to how badly the pandemic has hit different sectors of Wyoming’s economy. Sales and use tax revenue from lodging was down 31% in September compared with the same month in 2019.

CASPER — Recovery from the economic fallout brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic remains slow but steady in Wyoming, according to a report released by the state’s Economic Analysis Division on Monday.

The report provides an economic index value using monthly data and gauges the overall health of the state’s economy.

Unemployment numbers have been gradually inching back down after reaching a high of 9.6% in April. September’s unemployment rate landed at 6.1%, according to the newest Wyoming Economic Indicators report. The number of non-farm payroll jobs in September reached 273,900, about 16,100 jobs less than the same month last year.

But that number was also 4.3% higher than April’s employment, highlighting a potential bright spot in the state’s gradual recovery.

Growth in Wyoming’s energy industries — typically the bulwark of the state’s overall economy — has been stubbornly sluggish.

The total amount of sales and use taxes collected from the mining sector lagged far behind last year’s volume, by nearly 69%, exposing just how brutal the pandemic has been for Wyoming’s mineral industries.

Sales and use taxes collected from the lodging sector were down 31% compared to September 2019.

Companies have also been hit by the persistence of the coronavirus, facing the day-to-day reality of protecting employees and adapting to tepid demand.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Tuesday that domestic oil production levels will likely stay “relatively flat” through 2021, a sobering reality for a state still tightly bound to the whims of energy markets.

In the months preceding the pandemic, U.S. oil and natural gas production was booming; in November 2019, the nation reached a new record of 12.9 million barrels per day. But an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, coupled with a dramatic dip in fuel demand, sent oil prices spiraling earlier this past spring.

A state financial report published last month predicted that it could take until at least the beginning of 2022 for Wyoming oil production to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels.

On Monday, Gov. Mark Gordon announced an additional round of systematic budget cuts totaling $500 million across nearly every state agency.

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