says the WBCI gives a good overview of the state economy by factoring in the four components and devising an overall score as opposed to just looking at items like unemployment or mineral production by themselves. The bad news in the report is that Wyoming’s September 2016 WBCI index score was 94.99, down from a September 2015 score of 99.01. ... But the September 2016 WBCI score was still an increase over the August WBCI of 94.30. It also reversed a four month decline in the WBCI that Robinson says clearly shows the state economy was getting worse between May and August. Robinson says that while he would like to see two or three months of an improving index score before drawing any real conclusions, it does tend to confirm that the state’s economic downturn has bottomed out.
There is nothing wrong per se in this description of the WEI report, though the headline's "hopeful signs" is a bit of an exaggeration. But what really matters is what has not been reported of the content of the November WEI.
To begin with, the index itself is worse than what KGAB - or any other news outlet - has reported. The number of the index, which relates current economic activity (as measured by the index) to a trend, is currently at 94.99. Theoretically, this means that it is about five percent below its long-term trend; in practice, that deviation does not tell us much about what is actually going on in the economy. It does, however, allow us to assess how the economy doing today in a historical context.
In 2014-2015 the WEI index was above 100. This means that the economy was performing better than its long-term trend. It also gives us a reference point compared to today's index value: from April 2014 to June 2015, when the index value exceeded 100, it topped out at 101.91. From there, the index has weakened steadily.
Measured as year-over-year, in other words the same month from one year to the next, the index has been declining for 16 months in a row now.
The four variables that constitute the index each report on a separate trend in economic activity; when the index is negative it means that those trends, on balance, are negative, in other words that the economy generally is getting weaker.