What Wyoming Does Well: KIDS COUNT Leader in Economic Well-Being

Posted July 6, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog whatwyomingdoeswell 2016

The 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks Wyoming as no. 1 in eco­nom­ic well-being for kids and fam­i­lies. A clos­er look at the data reveals that the state is tied for hav­ing the nation’s low­est child pover­ty rate (13%) and the low­est pro­por­tion of teens not work­ing or attend­ing school (4%).

Samin Dade­lahi, chief oper­at­ing offi­cer of the Wyoming Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion, talks about two ways that the state’s econ­o­my stands out.

  1. It plans for hard times.
    We are a boom and bust state that relies on the oil and gas indus­try — we have tried but have yet to be suc­cess­ful at sub­stan­tial­ly diver­si­fy­ing our econ­o­my,” says Dade­lahi. So, when times are good, we put mon­ey into a per­ma­nent min­er­al trust fund for rainy days. We cur­rent­ly have over $6 bil­lion in this fund.”
  2. It has work options for teens.
    We do real­ly well in terms of teen employ­ment rates. While it runs a far sec­ond to the mon­ey that comes in from the oil and gas indus­try, tourism is a big play­er in the state and cre­ates a lot of jobs,” Dade­lahi explains. Many tourism jobs uti­lize unskilled local labor, and these are per­fect jobs for teens. So, we have lots of jobs avail­able to young peo­ple, par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing the summertime.”

More recent­ly, oil and gas prices have dropped — and Wyoming’s unem­ploy­ment num­bers are ris­ing. Dade­lahi says that dur­ing these inevitable eco­nom­ic down­turns, the mes­sage about sup­port­ing chil­dren and fam­i­lies through­out the state is clear: We can­not afford to lose the gains that we’ve made for chil­dren when times are good. Too much hap­pens in those ear­ly years for kids, and it’s one of the best invest­ments that our state can make — regard­less of what our eco­nom­ic cli­mate is like.”

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