A Senior Wyoming Economist says improving crude oil prices have been driving a steady improvement of the state economy over the last few months.

Jim Robinson says the ''Macro" economic report that came out on Wednesday contains more good news than bad news, especially in regard to the all-important mining sector of the state economy, which includes oil and gas drilling.

For example, overall sales and use tax collections for the first six months of Fiscal Year 2018 are up by $54.4 million dollars, or 17.9 percent.

But those same sales tax collections for the state mining sector over that period were up by $25.5 million, or a whopping 76.6 percent.  He says the state's mining sector gained about 2200 jobs between November 2016 and the same time last year.

While crude oil prices have been steadily improving, reaching the $63-$65 per barrel prices recently, Robinson says natural gas prices have surged recently as well. In fact, over the last four weeks or so, cold weather has pushed those prices up into the $3 per mcf range.

Robinson says that while that price increase doesn't show up in the Macro report, which has a cut-off date of Dec. 31, 2017, it is, in fact, another bit of good news for the state economy.

Most other sectors of the state economy showed more modest improvements in the report, such as the ''Education, Health and other" category, which showed a 26.1 percent increase or $3.2 million.  The mining and wholesale trade sectors of Wyoming's economy were the main factors in the personal income growth state residents enjoyed during the third quarter of 2017 (the last quarter for which those figures are available), the third consecutive quarter that Wyoming residents overall personal income grew.

Robinson says the big question going forward is whether the surge in crude oil prices will continue to boost the state economy, or whether the recent growth will level off in the coming weeks.

But he says overall the latest report is good news for the Wyoming economy.

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