What Are The Biggest Industries In Wyoming

By Sundra Chelsea Atitwa on January 29 2020 in Economics

Coal mining operations in Wyoming.

Wyoming is one of the Mountain States of the US located in the Western United States. It is the 10th largest state by area. Wyoming is the least populated state in the US. The state is also the 2nd most sparsely populated state after Alaska. In 2018, Wyoming had a population of 577,737. Wyoming is bordered by Montana to the north, South Dakota to the east, Colorado to the south, Utah to the southwest and by Montana and Idaho to the west. Its capital city is Cheyenne.

Wyoming’s Economy

Wyoming’s economy differs greatly from that of the other US states which are mainly driven by the manufacturing. Manufacturing is of minor importance to Wyoming. The economy of Wyoming is heavily tied to mineral extraction, tourism and agriculture. Minerals of major importance to the state are coal, oil, gas and trona. Important agricultural commodities in the state are livestock, hay, barley, wheat, sugar beets and wool.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Wyoming’s GDP in 2016 was $34.439 billion. This GDP represents 0.21% of the nation’s total GDP, making Wyoming the 50th largest state economy in the US in 2016.

The following are some of the biggest industries in Wyoming;

Mining

The mineral extraction industry is Wyoming’s most important industry. The industry remains a major economic driver of the state despite oil and gas production declining since the 1970s. The main mineral commodities of Wyoming include coal, natural gas, crude oil, coalbed methane, uranium and trona.

Wyoming is the top coal-producing state in the US. The state possesses the largest coal resources in the nations, with an estimated reserve of 68.7 billion tons of coal. The Green River Basin and the Powder River Basin are some of the major coal areas in Wyoming.

Wyoming produces crude oil that is utilized as a motor fuel, and also in the manufacture of plastics, paints, and synthetic rubber. In 2016, Wyoming produced 1.77 trillion tons of natural gas, making it sixth nationwide in natural gas production. Natural gas in Wyoming is utilized in domestic, commercial and industrial heating.

Coalbed methane is extracted from the Wyoming coal bed seams. Mining of coalbed methane provides another means of natural gas extraction. Coalbed methane is mined in the Powder River Basin. Wyoming is home to the world’s largest known reserve for trona. Trona is utilized in the manufacture of soap, glass, paper, pharmaceuticals, water softeners, and baking soda.

Wyoming also has substantial uranium deposits, estimated to account for a third of the total reserves in the US. Even though uranium mining has been much less active in recent years, the recent increase in the price of uranium has generated new interest in uranium mining.

Other minerals mined in the state include bentonite clay and other clays, gypsum, limestone, iron ore, gold and gemstones.

In 2016, the mining industry of Wyoming contributed $4.4 billion to the states GDP. This was 12.7% of the total GDP. The same year, Wyoming’s mining industry employed 3.1% of the workforce.

Tourism

Tourism is the second most important engine in Wyoming’s economy. Each year, over 6millon visitors travel to Wyoming to see the states national parks and national monuments. Eton County is one of the tourist-oriented areas in the State. Key national parks in Wyoming include Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton National Park. The Yellowstone National Park attracts more than 3 million visitors every year. In 2018, the park attracted 4.1 million visitors. Important national monuments include the Fossil Butte National Monument, Independence Rock and Devils Tower National Monument. Other tourist destinations in the state are the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area and the Fort Laramie National Historic Site.

The towering mountains and vast plains of Wyoming provide spectacular scenery that attracts millions of visitors into the state to enjoy recreation activities. Wyoming has 15,846 miles of fishing streams and over 297,000 acres of fishing lakes that support many species of gaming fish. Besides, Wyoming is a big game hunter destination. Big game hunters come to the State for its mountain lions, mountain goats, elks, antelopes, deer, moose and bighorn sheep.

Tourism in Wyoming earns the state more than $2 billion in annual revenue. The industry also employs about 12% of Wyoming’s workforce.

Agriculture

Agriculture has played a central role in Wyoming’s history. Although its importance to the economy of Wyoming has waned over the years, the majority of the residents in the state still make their living from farming and ranching.

Wyoming is a cattle state and has been nicknamed the Cowboy State. The state has over 1.5 million cows, about 3 times the number of people in the state. Livestock products generate 86% of Wyoming’s agricultural receipts. Beef cattle and calves account for 78% of the total agricultural receipts. Beef cattle earn the state $600 million annually in beef sales. Wyoming is also a leading producer of sheep and wool. Other livestock product s in the state include hogs, dairy products, chicken eggs and honey.

Hay is Wyoming’s number one crop. Hay earn the state over $65 million each year. Other crops grown in Wyoming are barley, wheat, corn, sugar beets, dry beans, sunflower, oats, and greenhouse products.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing in Wyoming is minimal. However, manufacturing remains a noticeable part of the economy contributing over $1.25 billion to the Wyoming economy every year. Manufacturers in Wyoming specialize in the refining of petroleum. Petroleum refineries are located in Cheyenne, Evansville, Evanston, Newcastle and Sinclair. About 170,000 barrels of oil is refined in these refineries every day.

Other top manufacturing products in Wyoming are coal products, chemicals, non-metallic mineral products, fabricated metal products, food, beverage and tobacco products, machinery, plastics and rubber products, wood products, computer and electronic products, electrical equipment and appliances.

The manufacturing industry in Wyoming accounts for 5.16% of the total output of the state. Wyoming manufacturing industry employs 3.42% of the workforce. In 2018, the total output from the manufacturing industry was $1.94 billion. The states manufacturing exports have grown by nearly 50% in the last 5 years. In 2018, the state exported $1.28 billion in manufactured goods. Two-thirds of export manufactures in Wyoming are small businesses.

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