Wyoming small businesses struggle with inflation

Downtown Gillette Main Street.
Downtown Gillette Main Street. (Screenshot)

By David Beasley, The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Business owners in Wyoming are struggling with inflation, which has caused many to raise prices, according to one small business advocacy group.

The inflationary woes are in addition to other factors that include supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and rising fuel prices, Tony Gagliardi, Wyoming director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), told The Center Square.

“We used to say that small business owners don’t control their selling prices, their competition does,” Gagliardi said. “That doesn’t hold water any more.”

In a national NFIB survey, 73% of members said they raised their prices specifically because of supply chain disruptions and staffing shortages. In many cases, the price hike skyrocketed to the double digits.

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The survey found that 44% of members who increased prices because of staffing and supply chain problems raised their prices 10% or more.

Businesses needed to raise prices in order to afford the higher wages, Gagliardi said.

“We have many members in Wyoming with jobs available and they can’t find anyone to fill them,” he said. “Therefore, they are raising their wages in order to attract workers. Businesses can no longer absorb those costs and it’s raising costs to the consumer.”

Rising fuel prices have also hurt businesses in the Cowboy State, according to Gagliardi. The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Wyoming was $4.11, lower than the national average of $4.24, according to the most recent data from the American Automobile Association.

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“While Wyoming has not seen the drastic price increases such as those seen in California and the east coast, increases in pump prices have caused a state of caution for Wyoming businesses,” Gagliardi said. “Depending on the type of business, transportation costs can run higher than payrolls. For Wyoming agribusiness and services industries, owners are watching closely the geopolitical uncertainties and the effects on local  fuel policies.”

Small business owners are also worried that inflation will raise their health insurance premiums, Gagliardi noted.

“As inflation continues to rise, the cost of medical equipment and medical services is increasing,” he said. “When does that start working its way into health insurance premiums? Then, you would start having business owners who could not afford insurance.”

The combination of inflation, supply chain disruptions and staffing shortages has slowed the pace of small-business recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Holly Wade, executive director of NFIB’s Research Center, said in a statement.

 

The Center Square is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on state- and local-level government and economic reporting.