State sales tax income drops in first quarter

PINEDALE — Figures released Monday by the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division report Sublette County collected 42% less sales and use taxes in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the previous year. 

That is the largest decline experienced by any county. 

The state overall saw a drop of $4.2 billion or a decline of 5.7%. 

While decreases occurred in most economic sectors, the largest decline was in the mining sector, which includes the oil and gas industries. 

Retail trade reported increases in sales and use taxes largely due to new legislation that requires taxes be paid by remote sellers. However, that 6% increase does not make up losses in the oil and gas collections. 

Sublette County is joined by Sweetwater and Johnson counties with declines in sales and use taxes of more than 30%. 

According to Wyoming’s Chief Economist Dr. Wen Liu, the amount of investment income in Wyoming Permanent Mineral Trust Fund and state agency pooled accounts was at $55.3 million in the first quarter of 2020. That is 26.4% lower than the amount reported one year ago. 

The $112.7 million in mineral severance taxes generated in the first quarter is the smallest amount registered since the second quarter of 2016. 

Tourism is also down slightly. The number of recreational visits to Yellowstone National Park reached 89,369 down 5.2% from the first quarter of 2019. Grand Teton Nation Park recorded 158,300 visits, which is down 4.9%. The two parks had complete closures in the last two weeks of March. 

Personal income in Wyoming increased 2.8%. Personal income for the United States was up 3.3% over the same period. 

All sectors saw increases in personal income except mining that includes gas and oil, which fell 5.9%. Leisure and hospitality fell 3% due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After a severe downturn in 2015 and 2016 in employment, Wyoming economy rebounded with a year of strong growth from the fourth quarter of 2018 through the fourth quarter of 2019. 

Even before the pandemic, Wyoming’s total employment decreased 0.4% or 1,090 jobs. 

Wyoming’s unemployment rate increased to 3.8% – slightly higher than the national average. The largest loss of jobs was in the mining sector. 

Liu quotes Moody’s Analytics saying the quick reopening of businesses started a turnaround in the three-month recession – March through May – the shortest recession in history. 

However, the recession will be one of the most severe in history. The loss in gross domestic product in those three months is expected to be 12% or three times the loss of the Great Recession.


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