Wyoming has a long history of mineral extraction which has been the major driver of its economy for over a century. Home to 35,000 active mines (3rd in the U.S) mining continues to be a big deal in Wyoming.

The mining industry employs a large section of the economy, but has struggled recently, causing the state to experience a slower economic recovery than most of the U.S. Coal, oil, and natural gas have dropped in production.

On a positive note, housing prices continue to rise. The leisure and hospitality sectors have seen major growth as well. Many people visited Wyoming’s prestigious national parks during the pandemic. Thanks to the increase in tourism, these sectors experienced a major boom in growth, up 9,200 jobs (35%) from the year before.

Those numbers contrast with mining and construction, which are down 1,300 jobs (-7.9%) and 1,600 jobs (-7.6%), respectively, compared to May 2020.

Fortunately, Wyoming residents don’t have to look far for assistance. There are several private, government, and nonprofit agencies that can help bridge the gap in your finances.

Debt Relief Options for Wyoming Residents

InCharge Debt Solutions is a leading option for consumers struggling financially, especially those trying to eliminate credit card debt.

InCharge is a nonprofit organization. Its certified credit counselors work with creditors to consolidate credit card debt, lower interest rates and create an affordable payment plan that fits your financial situation.

On average, credit card companies charged consumers 16.5% interest rates in 2021. Consumers who miss payment deadlines can see their interest rates raised to 25% or more by credit card companies. InCharge works with card companies to get those rates down to approximately 8%, sometimes lower.

InCharge aims to help customers eliminate their credit card debt in 3-5 years. However, clients must know this going in: You will need to adhere to a detailed spending budget — and follow it with tremendous discipline — to eliminate debt in the 3-to-5-year targeted timeframe.

InCharge will take your monthly payments and distribute them to credit card companies in agreed-upon amounts. Consumers can apply for this user-friendly and hassle-free plan over the phone or online.

Many borrowers will be glad to hear that their credit score is not a factor in enrolling. Even consumers with low credit scores qualify for debt management plans.

Here are some of the other assistance programs that are available to Wyoming residents facing financial dilemmas:

Debt Settlement – This plan can help you pay less than the amount owed.  It is often used for relief from credit cards, personal loans and medical bills. Creditors must agree to a payment amount that settles the debt.  While this option may solve some of your financial issues in the short term, it will have negative long-term effects. The debt settlement will go on your credit report for the next seven years and hurt your ability to receive credit in the future.

Nonprofit Debt SettlementThis is offered by a select group of nonprofit credit counseling agencies. The difference between this and traditional debt settlement is that the creditors have agreed in advance to reduce the amount owed by 40%-50%. Consumers can start reducing the amount owed with the first monthly payment. The debt is eliminated in 36 months.

Debt Consolidation Loan – Borrowers with strong credit profiles can qualify for a low-interest debt consolidation loan. You will still have to pay off the consolidation loan, but at least you won’t be hit so hard by the credit card companies’ soaring interest rates. It also gives you the benefit of turning multiple payments into one, simple monthly transaction.

Bankruptcy – This option can free you of credit card debt, but it is a last resort when all other options won’t work. While bankruptcy might have great benefits in the short term, the damage done in the long term could be painful for years to come. The bankruptcy filing will negatively impact your credit score for the next 7-10 years. That credit score hit will most likely hamper future credit transactions like getting a loan to buy a home or a new vehicle. Before choosing the bankruptcy option, make sure to consider the effects this will have on your credit.

Wyoming Debt Resources

These programs can help Wyoming residents secure food, housing, legal aid, or monetary assistance. Most are aimed at low-income individuals and families, but qualification requirements vary by program and county.

Financial Assistance

Wyoming Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): This program offers financial assistance to families with young children who are unable to support themselves. To qualify, you must be unemployed or underemployed earning a low income. Monthly benefit amounts range from $237 to $712. For more info click here.

Housing Assistance

Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP): This program can cover rent and utility payments for renters. It can help pay internet and utility payments, as well, for those struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legal Aid: Legal assistance is available for low-income residents facing eviction, disputing damage claims, or facing debt collection. Visit www.lawyoming.org or call 1-877-432-9955 to see if you qualify.

Housing Stability Services: This program offers help to seniors who may have trouble accessing or maintaining their households. Services include home modifications, personal care, and transportation. You must be approved for ERAP to qualify. Visit health.wyo.gov or call 307-777-7988 for more info.

Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP): This program offers to help pay fueling and heating costs. To be eligible, you must have a median income below 60% of the state average. Those who participate in SNAP, SSI, and TANF automatically qualify.

Food and Nutrition Assistance

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): This program offers monthly benefits to help low-income families purchase food. It is meant to supplement income and shouldn’t be expected to cover a month’s worth of food. Applicants are reviewed thoroughly and eligibility requirements may vary. Review SNAP income limits here.

Cent$ible Nutrition Program (CNP): This is Wyoming’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed). It offers cooking and nutrition education classes. The purpose is to help people make healthy choices on a limited income. CNP lessons are free and include a CNP cookbook, kitchen tools, a menu planner, and a year-long subscription to the CNP newsletter. To qualify, your income must be at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP): This is a separate program from SNAP. It offers free emergency food and nutrition assistance for low-income individuals, including the elderly. To qualify, your gross household income must fall below 130% of the current federal poverty level.

Wyoming Debt Statistics

Here are some statistics depicting the state of Wyoming’s economy in 2021:

  • Total employment increased 4.1% (or 10,700 jobs) compared to 2020. The U.S average was 8.5%.
  • The state’s unemployment rate increased slightly to 5.4% but remained lower than the national average of 5.9%.
  • Single-family home prices went up 13.6% compared to 2020. The national average was 17.4%.
  • In Q2 of 2021, 1,480,152 visited Yellowstone National Park, up 138.8% from the year before.
  • The number of oil & gas jobs fell by 8.4% between May 2020 and May 2021. This downturn in the energy and mining industries has contributed to Wyoming’s stagnant population growth.
  • Between 2010 and 2020, Wyoming has had the 7th slowest population growth rate in the U.S, growing just 2.3% during that time. This marks the slowest growth rate for Wyoming since the 1980s.
  • About 11,800 more residents left Wyoming than moved into the state between 2010 and 2020.
  • Average rental rates for a house or apartment increased by 3.7% from 2019 to 2020.

Sources

N.A. (2021 September). Economic Summary Q2:2021. Retrieved from: http://eadiv.state.wy.us/wef/Economic_Summary2Q21.pdf

N.A. (2021 June 30). MACRO Report: Review of Wyoming’s Economy. Retrieved from: http://eadiv.state.wy.us/MACRO/MACRO_Report2Q21.pdf

N.A. (2021 August). Wyoming Insight: Economic Analysis Division. Retrieved from: http://eadiv.state.wy.us/Insight/WY_Insight821.pdf