II. Labor Demand and Job Growth

Labor demand depends on total labor costs for a particular skill level and total output the firm is capable of producing to meet customer needs for profit maximization. Each industry (see Appendix B) and occupation has various levels of labor demand. This section covers the change in the number of jobs over the forecast horizon. The total nonagricultural wage and salary employment increases by 27,450 jobs (11.4%) over the forecast horizon (see Table 2). Three out of four jobs created through 2008 will be in the Services and Retail Trade sectors (see Figure 3). Personal income levels between 1999-2008 are projected to increase for all industries, with total personal income growing by 4.7 percent.

One distinction between short- and long-term forecasts needs clarification. In the short term, job growth can change dramatically due to price changes or supply and demand shocks, such as oil prices or droughts, which are difficult to predict. Long-term forecasts show the general trend of job growth, and whether or not structural changes are occurring in the economy.


No projections for Agriculture are given because of its small portion of total employment (1.5% of total employment in 19981), but it is still an important sector and can effect other industries like Manufacturing. For example, the sugar beet industry dramatically increases employment levels in the Manufacturing sector during harvesting season, lowering unemployment rates in counties where sugar beet farming and processing exist. The covered Unemployment Insurance (UI) employment growth in Agriculture is a result of the commercialization of agricultural business; the shifting from family-owned businesses towards company ownership. As a result, more agricultural workers are covered by UI. Wyoming has a higher rate of self-employment (22.7%) than the nation (16.4%), with a large portion of the workforce employed in Agriculture positions that are not covered under UI.2

Occupational growth in the Agriculture sector (see Table 3) is greatest among landscape laborers, farm equipment operators, and veterinary technicians. Table 3 gives the base and forecast job growth or loss from 1998 to 2008, along with the amount and percent difference between the forecast horizon.

Since Agriculture is the smallest sector in total covered employment, it does not have an important direct effect on total employment changes, except for the seasonal factor.3 From 1990 to 1998, by percentages, the Construction and Agriculture sectors gained the most jobs, at 43.0 percent and 42.5 percent, respectively, followed by Services at 32.9 percent.


The Mining sector has played a vital role in the progress of Wyoming's economy in the past. However, future contributions are forecast to be less significant on Wyoming's overall economy and job growth as the state changes from a goods-producing to a service-producing economy. Also, technology and productivity will decrease job growth, as the sector becomes more capital intensive.

In 1998, there were 17,000 jobs in Wyoming’s Mining sector (see Table 2). However, Wyoming's 1999 annual average employment is forecast at 15,600 jobs--a drop of 1,400 jobs from 1998. The sub-sectors contributing to the loss were oil & gas extraction (-1,000), non-metallic minerals & quarrying (-300) and coal mining (-100). This large decline in employment started in the first quarter of 1999, and is considered an anomaly to many analysts. For example, the Current Employment Statistics (CES), Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS), and Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) statistical series did not catch this significant decline in jobs in preliminary estimates. This large decline in employment was unexpected since UI claims from the Mining sector and monthly reports from employers included in the CES sample, at the time, suggested much smaller job losses.4

After reviewing the Mining employment data produced by the UI employer tax records, analysts were able to confirm the large job losses by using wage records and social security numbers to track individual employees. This involved the detailed matching of individual wage records for employer accounts from first quarter 1998 through second quarter 1999. The results proved that within a six-month period, approximately 1,000 individuals from the Mining sector left Wyoming's job market.

Despite predictions of oil and gas prices remaining strong through the year 2000 and increases in the production of coal, trona and methane gas by the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group5 (CREG), Wyoming's Mining sector is expected to remain stable through the year 2008. The increase in the number of drilling applications for coal-bed methane and the number of completed wells is expected to have minimal upward effect on employment because coal-bed methane drilling is less labor intensive than standard oil and gas drilling.

Table 4 shows the top ten employing occupations within the Wyoming Mining sector. Overall employment in Mining is expected to decline 8.2 percent by the year 2008.

Construction and Real Estate

The Construction sector is defined as building construction-general contractors; heavy construction other than building construction-traditionally highway; and special trade contractors, such as electricians, carpenters, plumbers, etc. The average annual wage for the Construction sector rose from $22,826 in 1990 to $26,844 in 1998 (see Table 15). The percentage of Construction employment as a share of total employment increased from 5.5 to 7.0 percent during the period from 1990 to 1998. Statewide, employment forecasts show Construction increasing in 2000, and slowing down thereafter (see Table 2). By 2008, the number of Construction jobs is expected to increase to 19,130 jobs from 15,850 jobs in 1998. Building construction and special trade contractor employment gain the most due to increases in total population, while heavy construction employment is expected to slow down due to slower growth in federal expenditures on highways.

New construction building permits are often used as a leading economic indicator to forecast the general direction of the economy.6 Permits fluctuate rapidly with the demand for housing. Housing starts (see Figure 4) and home sales are directly correlated with employment, the purchase of construction materials, the eventual purchase of household appliances, furniture and other household items. For example, Casper's economy has seen substantially increased requests for permits and new business formations7 causing total and Construction employment to increase dramatically in 1999. Housing activity also increases with favorable interest rates. As interest rates fluctuate, housing starts, costs, and sales will move up and down causing employment in the Real Estate and Construction industries to fluctuate. Traditionally, interest rate changes influence the Real Estate sub-sector first, and then six to 12 months later effect the Construction sector.

Housing starts and home sales are correlated with the seasonal weather factors in Wyoming, with the second and third quarters having the largest number of housing permits issued. Construction and Real Estate employment and wages peak in the summer and drop to the lowest levels in the winter. Other contributors to fluctuations in housing starts and home sales include changes in income levels and household formations. As average income levels go up beyond inflation, consumer-spending power goes up as well, increasing housing starts and sales.

Employment in the Construction sector also includes heavy construction, particularly in road and airport construction. Looking at the dollar amount the Wyoming Transportation Department (WDT) projects let to contract, it is evident the amount spent by WDT will also effect Construction employment levels. The aggregated time series data for past employment and wage interaction in heavy construction has increased considerably. This increase in 1999 is due to the increase in federal expenditures8 for highway construction of $26 million over 1998 levels.

Growth occupations in the Construction sector are carpenters, electricians and plumbers (see Table 5). Many other factors effect the Construction sector and can also be useful as economic indicators: demographic factors (i.e., age composition of the population, net domestic migration patterns, and household formations), rental prices, and wood prices.

Finance and Insurance

The Finance, Insurance, & Real Estate (FIRE) sector is one of the smallest employing sectors in Wyoming. In 1990, the sector had 7,178 jobs, about 3.7 percent of total jobs in Wyoming. In 1998, FIRE represented about 3.8 percent of total jobs. The percentage of total FIRE jobs in 2008 is expected to be about 3.6 percent. The increased use of technology, as well as the consolidation and/or restructuring of some financial institutions, will initiate this decrease (i.e., Internet and automatic teller machines - ATM). Depository institution employment lost 572 jobs over the past eight years and is projected to drop in the future, while employment in other Finance sub-sectors is expected to increase. This is also a general trend at the national level. Due to the development of financial market and financial innovations, direct financing is playing a bigger role in the U.S. financial markets, so the decline and restructuring in depository institutions are unavoidable.

The securities brokerage and dealing sub-sector is the only industry with a six-digit average annual wage ($104,689) and largest percentage gains at 163.8 percent (nearly 12.9% per year) in the past eight years. This phenomenon is due to the booming of the securities market and direct financing in the financial markets. Another explanation is the financial risk premium. Securities businesses are usually considered risky and high wages are needed to attract people to work in this area. Experience, demand, and licensing requirements may also contribute to the high wages (see Table 6). Other growth occupations in the FIRE sector are insurance adjusters, insurance policy processing agents, loan officers, and credit clerks.


Manufacturing makes up only a small part of Wyoming's economy. The sector averaged 10,900 covered jobs or 4.8 percent of all jobs in 1998. Between 1990 and 1999, the Manufacturing sector experienced modest gains in employment especially during 1990, 1991, 1993, and 1996. The slow growth is due to the close relationship of this sector to the Agriculture and Mining sectors, which are not expected to increase significantly over the forecast horizon. More than 80.0 percent of the employment growth between 1990 and 1996 was caused by non-economic code changes. Non-economic code changes are based on a company changing its primary business activity from one sector to another.9 For example, in 1991 and 1993, two individual companies changed their primary business industry classification from the Wholesale Trade and Mining sectors to the Manufacturing sector. From 1990 to 1998, Wyoming's Manufacturing sector increased by 1,500 jobs; however, 1,200 jobs were added by the way of non-economic code changes. These types of changes in Wyoming's economy can show artificial growth in employment levels and often are misinterpreted.

Nationally, Manufacturing's share of total jobs is expected to decline, as a decrease of 350,000 Manufacturing jobs is projected through the year 2006. However, Manufacturing is expected to maintain its share of total output, as productivity in this sector is projected to increase. Accounting for 14.0 percent of employment in 1996, Manufacturing is expected to decline nominally to a level of 12.0 percent in 2006.

Unlike the national level, Wyoming's Manufacturing is projected to remain stable through the year 2008.10 This sector is expected to grow 10.3 percent by the year 2008. Even though the level of employment is projected to increase by 1,100 jobs by the year 2008, the relative share of total employment in the sector remains at 4.7 percent.

Table 7 shows the top ten employing occupations within the Wyoming Manufacturing sector.

Transportation, Communications, & Public Utilities (TCPU)

The Transportation, Communications, & Public Utilities (TCPU) sector includes: railroad transportation; motor freight transportation; electric, gas, & sanitary services; as well as other transportation and communications related companies. Employment in this sector in 1998 was 13,920 and is expected to rise to 14,110 by the year 2000. Employment is forecast to dip to 14,030 in 2001 and continue to decline to approximately 13,810 in 2008. This drop in employment is mainly due to technology replacing labor. The annual wage was $34,437 in 1998. In 2000, the annual wage is expected to be $36,618. By 2008, the annual wage for the TCPU sector is expected to be $51,724, a growth rate of roughly 4.0 percent annually for the forecast period (see Table 15).

Within the TCPU sector, the electric, gas, & sanitary services sub-sector is also projected to decline by 11.0 percent due to technology efficiencies. A sub-sector expected to grow substantially within the TCPU sector is transportation by air. This group is expected to grow by approximately 25.0 percent over the forecast period. The relatively small number of individuals currently employed in this sector account for a higher growth rate with increased demand for air transportation.

The fastest growing occupations within the TCPU sector are pilots and flight engineers (see Table 8). These occupations are expected to grow by about 43.0 percent over the projection period. The increased demand for these occupations within this industry are highly valued with larger increases in wages and can be seen locally. In a recent article in the Casper-Star Tribune,11 Great West Airlines reported having difficulty recruiting pilots and flight engineers to operate their flights. However, the company expects the 60 pilots they have sent for training will alleviate their dilemma. Transportation agents and parts salespersons are also expected to grow about the same rate.

Local and suburban transit and interurban highway passenger transportation are expected to grow by approximately 18.0 percent over the forecast period, along with increases in the total population. Transportation inspectors and agents are expected to grow by approximately 41.0 percent and 32.0 percent, respectively.

Wholesale Trade

Employment growth in the Wholesale Trade sector in 1998 slowed to 1.0 percent after increasing by 4.2 percent in 1997. Employment totaled 7,770 jobs in 1998. Since 1990, employment in the Wholesale Trade sector has increased by an average of 1.7 percent annually. The growth, however, has tended to occur in spurts, with gains in 1994 and 1997 above 4.0 percent and much lower increases in all other years.

For the forecast period, employment in the Wholesale Trade sector is projected to increase by 1.9 percent annually, reaching 9,260 jobs in 2008. Growth in this sector is driven by increases in population and the continued shift in the economy from the goods-producing sectors to the Services and Retail Trade sectors. Occupations within the Wholesale Trade sector which increase employment the most over the forecast horizon are driver and sales workers, heavy truck drivers, light truck drivers, sales representatives, and clerical supervisors (see Table 9).

Retail Trade

The Retail Trade sector is the third largest sector in Wyoming in terms of employment, with a total of 44,920 jobs in 1998. Growth in this sector was quite high during the early part of the decade, with increases averaging over 3.0 percent from 1990 to 1995. However, the growth rate began to slow in 1996, and significantly lagged increases in total employment realized over the past two years, growing by only 0.1 percent in 1997 and by 0.2 percent in 1998.

The largest sub-sector within the Retail Trade sector is eating & drinking places, comprising just over one-third of total Retail Trade sector employment. From 1990 to 1995, this sub-sector grew in excess of 4.0 percent annually. Significant slowing occurred in 1996, with an increase of only 1.3 percent. During the next two years, employment within the sub-sector declined by 1.3 percent in 1997 and by 2.2 percent in 1998.

Two other major sub-sectors have also been losing jobs recently in the Retail Trade sector. The first is the general merchandise stores sub-sector which followed the same general pattern as eating & drinking places, with large gains early in the decade, followed by declines after 1994. Growth averaged 5.7 percent from 1990 to 1994. Since then, declines have averaged 0.9 percent, with decreases of 1.8 percent realized in 1997 and 0.6 percent in 1998. The apparel & accessory stores sub-sector gained jobs at an average rate of 1.4 percent from 1990 to 1995, but losses in employment in both 1996 and 1997 were 4.4 percent. This sub-sector experienced employment growth in 1998, suggesting a possible turn around.

Building materials, hardware, garden supply & mobile homes is one of the smaller sub-sectors within the Retail Trade sector, but has experienced the fastest growth within the sector. Growth rates averaged 7.5 percent from 1990 to 1995 and 4.2 percent from 1995 to 1998. Employment within the food stores sub-sector decreased through 1995, but grew by 1.9 percent annually thereafter, despite significant ownership changes in the sector within Wyoming.

The automobile dealers & gasoline service stores sub-sector realized consistently positive growth averaging 2.4 percent annually since 1990. The home furniture, furnishings & equipment stores sub-sector grew by a rate of over 5.0 percent annually, and the miscellaneous retail sub-sector increased by 2.7 percent annually.

For the year 2000, forecast employment in the Retail Trade sector increases by 1.2 percent, slightly slower than the overall growth in employment, but nonetheless, a significant improvement over 1997 and 1998. After 1999, employment in the Retail Trade sector increases faster than the overall level of employment growth. From 1999 to 2008, the Retail Trade sector grows by an average of 1.6 percent, the third fastest increase of any sector, behind only the Services and Wholesale Trade sectors. In 2008, the Retail Trade sector is forecast to have 51,960 jobs, comprising one-fifth of total employment. Growth in the Retail Trade sector is primarily driven by increasing population, tourism, and disposable income.

Within the Retail Trade sector, occupations projected to increase the most are retail salespersons, cashiers, food preparation workers, restaurant cooks, and combination food preparation/service workers (see Table 10).


The Services sector is primarily engaged in providing a wide variety of services for individuals, businesses and government establishments and has seen major job growth within Wyoming’s economy during the 1990's, with an average annual growth rate of 3.6 percent. Although the increases slowed during the past three years to 1.3 percent in 1996, 1.9 percent in 1997, and 2.9 percent in 1998, employment growth in the Services sector has consistently been above the increase in total employment. In addition to the second fastest growth rate of the 1990's, behind only the Construction sector, Services is the second largest employing sector in Wyoming’s economy.

Except for a small decline in 1996, the health services sub-sector has enjoyed rapid and nearly continuous increases with an average job growth of 3.0 percent since 1990. A large portion of the increase in this sub-sector is related to the aging of the population and an overall increase in the demand for health care in general.

The business services sub-sector grew faster than any other Services sub-sector, with average annual increases of 6.9 percent. The gains in this sub-sector are indicative of the change going on in the national and Wyoming economies, as the shift from a goods-producing economy to a service- and information-producing economy continues.

The hotels, rooming houses, camps & other lodging places sub-sector also grew more slowly than the other large sub-sectors, with average gains of only 1.9 percent annually. Almost all of the gains occurred in the first half of the decade, when the sector grew at an annual rate of 2.6 percent, while the last three years' growth has averaged only 0.8 percent annually. This sub-sector is largely dependent on tourism and is one measure of tourism's impact on Wyoming's economy.

The Services sector is projected to have the fastest growth rate of any sector through 2008 at 2.4 percent annually. Additionally, this sector is the only sector forecast to increase at a rate of more than 2.0 percent through the forecast horizon. As a result of the high growth, the Services sector surpasses the Government sector in 2005 as the largest employing sector in Wyoming.

Within the Services sector, business services are expected to continue leading all other sub-sectors in employment growth due to the increased number of new businesses.12 Health services should maintain a solid growth rate due to the aging population, while the other service sub-sectors will grow at somewhat slower rates.

Occupations expected to add the greatest number of jobs in the Services sector are: registered nurses, general managers and top executives, janitors and cleaners, and general utility maintenance repairers (see Table 11).

Total Government

Total Government consists of federal, state, and local government (see Table 12). The annual wage in 1998 for the Government sector was $26,305 and is expected to rise to $27,975 by the year 2000. It is estimated to increase 4.0 percent per year through 2008 to a level of $37,560. The forecast annual wage for state government mirrors the annual wage state pattern for the entire Government sector, with education increasing the fastest. Both federal and local government wages increased rapidly, too. However, compared to the sector as a whole, the annual wage is traditionally higher for the federal government and slightly lower for local government.

Local and state government employment in 1998 was 51,320 jobs. Employment growth in state government has been relatively flat in the 1990’s, and both sub-sectors are expected to decline slightly to 51,100 by the year 2000. Growth in these sub-sectors is expected to remain flat throughout the forecast period, having an estimated 52,740 jobs by 2008, although local government has shown growth and should continue during the forecast horizon. In 1998, the federal government payroll numbered 7,100 jobs in Wyoming. By the year 2000, federal employment is expected to drop to a level of 7,050 jobs. Employment in 2001 is expected to rise to 7,190 and remain steady through 2008.

Primarily, the low growth in the Government sector reflects current and projected spending cuts. Figure 5 compares the percentage change in federal expenditures to the percentage change in federal employment for the years 1989 to 1997 for the State of Wyoming. As the level of federal spending increases or decreases, employment levels rise or fall commensurately.13

In the Government sector, technology-related occupations show the highest projected net change in terms of growth over the forecast horizon (see Table 13). The number of database administrators and system analysts is expected to grow by about 70.0 percent each, along with higher wages.14 Computer programming aides are expected to show a growth percent change of about 61.0 percent. Law clerks are expected to show a gain of 48.0 percent and marketing/sales supervisors, a gain of 36.0 percent. These numbers are misleading, since these occupations represent relatively few of the total positions currently available, and a small increase in the number of positions translates into a large percentage increase. System analysts are an exception to this observation. This occupation is expected to increase by 65 jobs. Other occupations expected to show the greatest increases in actual jobs include registered nurses and secretaries.

Local Education

Employment in the local education sub-sector continues to grow at a slow but steady rate despite decreasing school enrollments. Student enrollment in primary and secondary schools during 1991 was 98,226 and rose to 100,899 in the 1993-1994 school year. Enrollment has been declining since that time and during the 1998-1999 school year held at 94,420 statewide.15

In 1990, local education had 18,600 jobs. Between 1991 and 1999, employment in local education steadily increased. By 1997, employment had grown to 20,200 jobs statewide, and is expected to remain unchanged through 1999. Employment in this sub-sector is expected to grow by 1.0 percent per year, rising to 25,800 jobs by the year 2008. Funding is a stronger driver of employment in education than enrollments. Expenditures for local education have risen since 1992; however, expenditure levels are uncertain at this time due to school finance litigation and could change in the future.

Wages & Income

Personal income levels between 1999 and 2008 are projected to increase for all industries, with total personal income growing by 4.7 percent annually over the ten-year forecast horizon (see Table 14).

Per capita personal income levels are also projected to increase, but at a lower rate of 4.2 percent over the same time.

Despite these expectations for growth, more modest gains in median household income (3.7%) and other measures reflect the concentration of new jobs in the Retail Trade and Services sectors--currently the two lowest paying sectors in the state.16 Between 1990 and 1998, two out of three jobs created in Wyoming were in these same sectors. In the face of strong labor market competition from neighboring states, retention of the state's population and future labor force is problematic. From 1990 to 1998, total employment covered by UI increased by 15.7 percent, or by 30,017 jobs.17 The bulk of these jobs were in Retail Trade paying $13,783 and Services paying $19,396 annually, compared to $29,054 statewide in 1998. In 1997, Wyoming's statewide average weekly wage was 21.2 percent below the national average.18 The more rapid growth of lower wage jobs in the context of higher earnings elsewhere is associated with slow population growth.

Projections for 1999 to 2008 indicate an employment growth of 7.5 percent, or about half of the 15.7 percent rate of growth for the period 1990-1998. The largest components of growth, Retail Trade and Services employment, are a function of population and personal income growth, the commercialization of functions formerly performed by family and community, and the functioning of Services as an export base sector (e.g., tourism, education, and financial services).

With regard to projections for personal income by sector for the period 1999-2008, the Services sector climbs 6.4 percent over the period, while Trade (Retail & Wholesale combined) grows by 5.0 percent. The traditionally higher paying sectors of Mining, TCPU, and Government are projected to grow by smaller percentages (3.7%, 4.1%, and 3.6%, respectively, over the forecast period).

Average annual wages for nonagricultural covered employment (see Table 15) are projected to increase for all industries over the period 1999-2008, with Construction expected to show the lowest percent change (9.8%) and Services to experience the highest percentage gain (92.2%, averaging 7.1% annual growth). By 2008, the Mining and TCPU sectors should continue to lead other sectors in average annual wages ($60,759 and $51,724, respectively). The Services sector is expected to surpass Government and Construction in average annual wages, but Trade is projected to lag far behind other industries in the year 2008, at $19,334, more than $10,000 behind its nearest rival, the Construction sector ($31,374). These trends in average annual wages reflect the transformation in the opportunity structure of Wyoming's labor market as it continues to shift from goods producing to services producing (see Figure 6).

1 Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning, Where Are the Jobs? What do They Pay?, Annual Covered Employment and Wages 1998, Casper, WY, (2000).

2 Carol Toups, "Self-Employment as a Work Option in Wyoming," Wyoming Labor Force Trends.

3 Mike Evans, "Job Turnover and Hire Rates in Wyoming," Wyoming Labor Force Trends.

4 David Bullard, "Covered Employment and Wages for First Quarter 1999," Wyoming Labor Force Trends.

5 Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, State Revenue Forecast, (October 1999).

6 Mike Evans, "Wyoming Housing and Home Improvement Markets: An Economic Indicator," Wyoming Labor Force Trends.

7 Sherry Yu, "A Study of Wyoming's New Business Formation," Wyoming Labor Force Trends.

8 David Bullard, "Federal Expenditures in Wyoming: A Partial Explanation of our Stagnant Economy," Wyoming Labor Force Trends.

9 Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning, Where Are the Jobs? What do They Pay?, Annual Covered Employment and Wages 1998, Casper, WY, (2000).

10 State Edition, Regional Forecast Analysis 6, no.12 (1999).

11 Casper Star Tribune, (August 27, 1999) and (October 19, 1999).

12 Sherry Yu, "Update: New Business Formation in Wyoming," Wyoming Labor Force Trends.

13 David Bullard, "Federal Expenditures in Wyoming Revisited: Growth in 1997," Wyoming Labor Force Trends.

14 Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning, Wyoming Wage Survey.

15 Wyoming Department of Education, "Statistical Report #2," 1998 School District Fall Report of Staffing and Enrollments, (March 1999).

16 Wyoming Office of Workforce Development, The Wyoming Unified Plan, (December 1999): 55.

17 Wyoming Office of Workforce Development, "Table 4," The Wyoming Unified Plan, (December 1999).

18 Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Employment and Earnings Annual Averages," BLS Bulletin 2511 (December 1998).

Contents | Labor Market Information | Economic Analysis Division