“Growth returned to most sectors of the local (Albany County) economy in 2011, but its rate was too low in most instances and… pre-recession levels have not been achieved,” was the general conclusion found in the latest Albany County Economic Trends publication released by the Laramie Economic Development Corporation. The LEDC commissioned the research with the Wyoming Center for Business and Economic Analysis, Inc. as a way to provide up-to-date economic trends to Albany County residents and businesses.

While both employment or new job creation and retail sales went in a positive direction, the rates of increase were not a rapid as desired. In the report it says the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services reported employment grew by 0.84 percent, translating into a gain of 154 employed persons in 2011. Retail sales increased at a rate of 3.6 percent last year, certainly better than the 2.4 percent decline in 2010.

Measured growth in local area income and wages was positive through 2009, indicating that residents saw gains in their income and wages to keep up with the effects of inflation. However, there were no income statistics for 2010 or 2011, so there is no assurance that has continued, although the study feels that it has.

Median household income was estimated at $42,890 in 2010, which is the most recent data available. That is a 6.9 percent increase from 2009′s estimate and the study says such an increase, “suggested the economy rebounded strongly from the Great Recession.”

The biggest remaining lull from the recession appears to be in the area of new commercial construction, which is still nowhere near the $60.5 million spent back in 2007. The total value of projects permitted in 2011 was just $10.6 million with the largest project valued at $6.8 million for a Wyoming National Guard building.

“New commercial construction has been a volatile series, especially in recent years,” reads the report. “Since 2007, the series has failed to return to that previous high level. It was up sharply in 2010, but then plummeted again in 2011, down 76 percent year-over-year.”

Remodeling activity had a better year than new commercial construction at $25 million in 2011, but that’s still down 73 percent from 2010. Over half of the remodeling projects, 55 percent, was done at the University of Wyoming.

Tax statistics do show that county property values went up 2.8 percent in 2011, a $10 million increase. Also Laramie’s property valuations increased by $4.4 million last year or 2.1 percent over 2010.

For more on the Annual Trends in Economic Indicators for the Laramie Area, contact the Laramie Economic Development Corporation. The LEDC works to attract and retain new businesses, such as data centers, and facilitates the expansion and development of existing businesses in Laramie.