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Wyoming oil, gas downturn continues to take toll on economy

Oct 16, 2020  | Ep4609


CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic continue to take a toll on Wyoming's economy, according to a new state report.

Last spring, a global oil price war and the pandemic caused many petroleum operators to halt drilling plans, shut in wells and lay off workers in droves. Last summer, Wyoming's rig count hit zero for the first time in state history.

The situation has improved little this fall. In September, oil prices averaged under $40 per barrel, down 6% from August and too low for many Wyoming producers to profit, according to the Economic Analysis Division report.

Only one drilling rig was exploring for oil and none was exploring for gas in Wyoming in September. Wyoming's rig count a year ago was 36,  the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

Sales and use taxes from Wyoming's mining sector, meanwhile, dropped nearly $9.4 million in September compared to a year earlier for a 72% revenue hit for local governments and the state.

Wyoming's workforce nonetheless made small gains, "a good sign that the recovery from the COVID-19 recession is continuing on," state economist Dylan Bainer said.

Employment outside of farming climbed by 500 jobs and Wyoming's unemployment rate dropped to 6.6%, according to the report.

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