Wyoming has no personal income tax, no corporate income tax and vistas that millions from all over the world come to enjoy; yet why are companies and workers not flocking to Wyoming.
The Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW) report identified the single greatest roadblock in economic growth and economic diversification is the need for a highly educated and skilled workforce.
We can educate everyone that is in high school and college in Wyoming today; and we still will not have enough workers to move Wyoming into the future.
We are competing for workers from a regional, national, and global market.
The workers, we need to attract to fill our needs, look at Wyoming and compare what other locations have to offer.
Perception is reality. When workers look at Wyoming, what do they see?
Low wages. Wyoming has the lowest minimum wage in the country. Year after year YOUR Legislature refuses to address the low wages. No one wants to come and work in a state that promotes pay that is below poverty level wages.
Pay inequity. Wyoming has the highest pay inequity in the country. Women are only receiving 68% of the pay of men. Women, married or single, are not going to come to where they receive the lowest pay for their work. No one wants to be unappreciated.
Health Insurance. Wyoming has the highest prices for health insurance premiums in the lower 48, with only one provider selling individual policies in the market. No one wants to pay twice as much for less coverage than they can get in surrounding states.
Education. Wyoming has a high quality education system. Pick up a paper or Google education in Wyoming and you see the Legislature fighting about how much to cut from education; continually more, more, and more. You read about enrollments dropping because families are leaving. You read about cuts to programs, cuts to staff, and banning of books and educational materials. No one is looking for a lowering standard of education for their children.
BOOM & BUST. Wyoming has an economy of Boom and Bust. You see a mass influx of people in the Boom times. You see thousands of people losing their jobs, their homes, and having to leave the state every few years in the Bust cycle. You see the leadership of the state claim “just like last time” and “the time before”. People see no stability, security, or future in moving here.
Health Care. Wyoming has been cutting funding for health care, especially mental health care facilities and treatment programs. Wyoming consistently has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. It appears that living in Wyoming is depressing and no one cares. Many Wyoming residents do not have access to quality health care and must go out of state for treatment.
Discrimination. Wyoming’s motto is the “Equity State” but that is not necessarily what you see from outside. Matthew Sheppard is what many people think of when hear Wyoming. Wyoming, year after year refuses to pass anti-discrimination laws or hate crime protections. You see anti-minority behavior in our parades and public venues as well as on the front page of our papers. One only needs to look at the negative economic impact that places like Georgia have experienced from “anti” legislation.
Perception is reality and it is time to look for leadership that will address these issues so that Wyoming can move forward.
Wyoming is great at marketing itself as a place to visit; it is time to start marketing Wyoming as a great place to stay, raise a family, and prosper!
We must have leaders that believe in the future instead of wanting to return to the past.