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As of the census of 2000, there were 49,644 people, 20,343 households, and 13,141 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,073.2 people per square mile (800.3/km). There were 21,872 housing units at an average density of 913.4 per square mile (352.6/km). The racial makeup of the city was 94.03% White, 0.86% Black, 1.00% Native American, 0.49% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 2.04% from other races, and 1.56% from two or more races. 5.35% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. There were 20,343 households out of which 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.6% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.4% were non-families. 29.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.94. In the city, the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 95.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.6 males. The median income for a household in the city was $36,567, and the median income for a family was $46,267. Males had a median income of $34,905 versus $21,810 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,409. About 8.5% of families and 11.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.4% of those under age 18 and 7.3% of those age 65 or over.

Although relatively small by national standards, Casper is a regional center of banking and commerce. Since the discovery of crude oil in the region during the 1890s, Casper became the regional petroleum industry center. Oil has figured prominently in its history from nearly the outset. Oil was first discovered in the famous Salt Creek Oil Field in 1889, approximately 40 miles (64 km) north of Casper; the first refinery in Casper was built in 1895. The city has featured a refinery ever since, although various refineries have been built and closed over the years. As recently as the early 1980s, the city was near or home to three refineries. The surviving one, operated by Sinclair Oil Corporation, is located nearby in Evansville. Development of Wyoming coal and uranium fields in recent decades has helped Casper continue its role as a center in the energy industry.