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Wyoming's economy in the 20th century


Wyoming’s petroleum resources
Wyoming’s petroleum resources

Wyoming’s only major military installation, F. E. Warren Air Force Base (formerly Fort D. A. Russell), was a World War II army training base prior to establishment of an independent U.S. Air Force in the early 1950s. Since 1959, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) have been deployed at this base.

Uranium deposits were discovered in scattered locations throughout the state in the 1950s. By 1956, 34 uranium companies operated in the state; this number declined sharply after a major accident in 1979 at the Three-Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. After the mines closed, several towns were almost entirely abandoned. By the year 2000, only one of the state’s uranium mines still operated. However, Wyoming has larger uranium reserves than any other state in the United States.

Although coal output dropped sharply after the war, development of Wyoming’s petroleum resources boomed in the 1950s and 1960s. The completion of a pipeline through the Green River Basin in 1955 stimulated further exploration. The Arab oil embargo pushed domestic oil prices to record levels in the 1970s, prompting extensive oil exploration throughout Wyoming. Major new fields were found in southwestern Wyoming and in the Powder River Basin. Most of Wyoming’s crude oil and natural gas is pumped out of the state for processing. Consequently, the industry creates significant income for the state, but does not employ a large number of people.Oil prices dropped sharply in the early 1980s along with the price of Wyoming coal. Many workers in the mineral industry lost their jobs, and many moved away from the state.

The state slipped into a protracted economic depression nearly as serious as the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s. The state’s population, which had jumped by more than 41 percent from 1970 to 1980, actually declined by 3.4 percent from 1980 to 1990. However, the population grew during the 1990s and continued to increase in the 2000s. A rise in natural gas prices spurred exploration for new deposits in the 2000s and brought a windfall in tax revenues to Wyoming. High pay by the industry attracted new workers to the state and lured many residents from their previous jobs, but the boom situation also made hiring difficult for employers outside the mining industry. The boom also created a housing shortage and pushed up property prices. "Wyoming" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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