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January 06, 2009 3:16 am

Wyoming isn't isolated from national economic woes

Written by Tribune Staff

Even as the national economy continues its downward spiral, the economic situation in Wyoming has looked rosy. A Casper Star Tribune front-page headline last week boomed: “Wyoming bucks national recession.”

A healthy report card today, yes, but an indicator of economic prosperity tomorrow? Not so fast.

The hard truth: Wyoming is far from invincible. There are many indicators that our insulation from the nationwide recession may be coming to an end.

The state treasurer's office reported a record loss in investment income last month — a whopping $22 million. The state's investment portfolio has lost, as of November, $1 billion in market value. The Wyoming public employee pension fund has taken a 25 percent plunge in market value. And Gov. Dave Freudenthal has told us revenue into state coffers is declining significantly.

National trends are catching up with the state's real estate market, too. Sales are sluggish in many communities — even Jackson, with a real estate market that's boomed for many years, is feeling the pinch. One of Jackson's largest brokerages announced it was closing last week, leaving 70 agents looking for jobs.

While Wyoming led the nation in job growth and personal income growth last month, the state's “boom and bust” history is all too real. Many here remember the pain of the mid-1980s following the party just years before.

If energy prices stabilize at current rates, we may avoid the bust — but caution, in both personal and government spending, is in order in the immediacy.