Wyoming may be nicknamed the "Cowboy State," but industry there belies the moniker. Wyoming's biggest economic contributor is mining, followed by government services, with farming and ranching not making the top five.
Instead, real estate, manufacturing, and logistics follow mining and government services, with construction and retail at sixth and seventh. Tourism and other nature industries barely register in the state's economy.
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Here's a look at the state's Top 5 industries:
1. Mining (Includes Oil, Gas, and Coal)
According to a 2005 analysis by Boston College, 29 percent of Wyoming's GDP comes from mining. Extractive industries shoulder most of the tax burden in the state since there are no personal or corporate income taxes and few taxes of any other kind. Levies on the extraction of gas, oil, and coal are classed as a "property tax," although as the Wyoming Business Council points out, "it is in fact a severance tax
based on market value of the natural resource being severed.
Wyoming taxes minerals at 100 percent of value, unlike "other" property taxes that are taxed at rates between 9.5 and 11.5 percent." Mineral extraction accounts for more than 94 percent of the property taxes paid in the state.
2. Government (State and Local)
Although this sector is second in financial productivity at 14.3 percent of GDP, it is collectively the state's largest employer, employing more than 20 percent of Wyoming's workers. Government is a larger factor in Wyoming's GDP than it is for the U.S. as a whole (12.9 percent).
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3. Real Estate
In 2010, real estate accounted for 8.9 percent of Wyoming's GDP, and it may be more now as a surge in beef prices (possibly as a result of the Western drought) has raised the value of ranch land, leading some ranchers to sell out and others to expand. According to an article in the Buffalo Bulletin, oil and gas lease money
has made it possible for many ranchers and farmers to buy more land. There also seems to be a small trend of retirees choosing Wyoming to settle down.
While Wyoming isn't a major manufacturing center, the industry is a noticeable part of the state's economy at 6.1 percent of GDP.
5. Logistics (Transportation and Warehousing)
Logistics make up 5.7 percent of GDP in Wyoming, and transportation of mining goods is a large part of that. Plus, Wyoming sits between the West Coast ports at Seattle and Portland and the big markets served by the Chicago transport nexus. Both the Union Pacific and Warren Buffett's BNSF railroads cross the state, and two local lines operate there as well.
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