Senior Wyoming Economist Jim Robinson said, Monday a new report is mostly good news for the state economy.

The Wyoming Insight report, issued last week, shows applications to drill for oil in Wyoming numbered 4,796 through the end of April compared to 2,857 at the same time in 2017. The number of people working in the oil and gas industries was at 12,100, an increase of 1,200 compared to the same time last year.

Robinson said more good news included the fact that statewide collections of the 4 percent state sales tax were up by 18.9 for the first ten months of Fiscal Year 2018 compared to FY 2017 (the fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30).

The state's two largest counties both showed significant increases in collections, with Laramie County showing a 14 percent increase in sales tax collections and Natrona County up by about 11 percent.

Every major sector of the state economy, except information, was up in a year-over-year comparison of sales tax collections, with mining and retail trade leading the way.

Robinson said the one major area of concern in the report was natural gas prices, which continued to lag. The May 2018 average price for natural gas at the Opal hub was $1.79 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), compared to $2.78 per MMBtu in May of 2017 and $2.02 in April of this year.

Robinson said, because of the glut of natural gas on the world market, and the fact that increased oil drilling tends to uncover even more natural gas, the prospects for methane prices improving anytime soon are probably not very good.

But even with that concern, Robinson said the overall report is still mostly positive and continues a recent trend of good economic news for the Wyoming economy.

He said, continuing high oil prices were especially good news, with an average price of $70.56 per barrel of West Texas crude, recorded in May.

Robinson also said, the overall number of jobs in Wyoming were also up by about 5,500 last month compared to a year earlier, which is a significant improvement in a sparsely populated state such as Wyoming

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