A report issued by the state’s Economic Analysis Division indicates Albany County’s wages are lower and poverty rates higher than Wyoming’s statewide average, even with low county unemployment.
The Wyoming County Profiles report, issued late last week, provides 2018 statistics measuring different demographic, economic, housing and wage conditions for all the counties in Wyoming, as well as statewide averages.
“Timely and accurate data are imperative for government, businesses and communities to make the most informed decisions possible in areas such as strategic planning, economic development and grant application,” said Wenlin Liu, chief economist with the Economic Analysis Division, in a March 29 news release.
While Albany County saw good news in its net migration, which saw 150 more people move to the county than leave it, some aspects of the data were more concerning.
The report said around 23 percent of Albany County residents earn income at or below the poverty level, double the state average of 10.3 percent. Of the families living in poverty, the report said 39.9 percent are single mothers. Additionally, almost a quarter of the children in Albany County schools are reported to receive free or reduced lunches.
Even with the poverty statistics for the county trending slightly above the state average, the report said median county home prices are more than $18,000 higher than the state’s median. Additionally, 16 percent of the county’s housing sits vacant, according to the report.
The higher home prices affect more than those in poverty considering 41.3 percent of county residents reported incomes less than $35,000, compared to just 28.1 percent statewide.
More people reported working for the private sector than the government, with the most popular trades being leisure and hospitality at 13.3 percent, education and health services at 11.5 percent and retail trade at 11.3 percent. The report showed unemployment was at 2.8 percent in 2018, lower than the state average.
Home to the University of Wyoming, students could be affecting some of Albany County’s data, like education completed and home ownership. Housing units in the county are split almost in half, with 50.4 percent of them reported as renter-occupied.
More than half of the county’s population, 58.2 percent, reported having at least an associate’s degree, and almost 30 percent reported completing some college without yet obtaining a degree.
The county also reported a higher percentage of its population drinking alcohol. More than 23 percent of Albany County adults reported having “five or more drinks on an occasion at least once in the past 30 days,” compared to just under 19 percent of adults in the state.
Chief Economist Wenlin Liu was unavailable for comment before deadline Thursday.