A Senior Wyoming Economist says a new report issued on Wednesday continues a recent trend of good news about the state economy.

Jim Robinson says one important bit of good news in the January "Insight Report" was the employment numbers for December of 2017, which were up by 1100 people compared to December of 2016.

Robinson says that is the first year-over-year increase in the number of people working in Wyoming since April of 2015. Oil and gas jobs were the main factor in that increase, with 1,500 more people working in those industries in Wyoming at the end of 2017 compared to one year earlier.

Oil and gas prices continued to surge in January as well, with the average prices of a barrel of intermediate crude oil at $63.46 per barrel compared to $57.94 in December of 2017. Natural gas averaged $3.10 per million British Thermal Units last month, up from $2.65 in December. Robinson said on Thursday that while the natural gas price increase is mostly tied to cold weather and not sustainable, there is no reason to think the higher oil prices won't continue over the next few months.

The other positive sign in the new report is that state sales and use tax collections are up by 17.9 percent for Fiscal Year 2018 compared to the same time in FY 2017.

Those tax collections are considered to be one of the best yardsticks for measuring overall economic health. Robinson says those numbers are especially encouraging because they are up all across the state and in a variety of different industries.

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