This publication seeks to identify Wyoming's future needs and sources for labor by investigating occupational employment and the available information on Wyoming's workforce. Our analysis builds on and lends detail to our prior publication, Outlook 2000: Joint Economic & Demographic Forecast to 2008, which had as its primary focus Wyoming's economic forecast measured in terms of the industrial demand for labor. With this study, we intend to describe how the industrial projections for 1998-2008 contained in that joint forecast (see Figure I-1 and Table I-1, reprinted from previous publication) can be associated with specific changes in occupational demand.










We focus on the interplay between underlying demographic and economic changes. Just as projections for industrial growth do not mean growth for all firms within an industry, neither can occupational growth projections forecast successful employment outcomes for individuals with specific occupational skills. The attractiveness of a teaching, nursing, food preparation, or computer programming job to any two individuals will vary based on a wide range of factors. Is a job more or less attractive when it is in a location where individuals with specific occupational skills are in low or chronically low supply? Such an environment may provide an opportunity to showcase skills and gain experience. Alternatively, it may provide a more a stressful environment, offering fewer local opportunities to learn from other professionals or advance into new career tracks. We cannot answer that question definitively; only individuals can. However, we can examine the dynamic environment created by demographic change, migration, changing demand for technological skills, and wage competition. These factors and others provide a contextual framework for understanding and predicting employee behavior in the aggregate. Reaching below surface explanations, attempting to characterize and understand this dynamic also better equips economic decision makers, career counselors, educators, employers, and employees to plan how they will interact with Wyoming's future labor market.


Growth and Job Vacancies, 1998-2008

  • The number of non-agricultural wage and salary jobs is forecast to grow over the period 1998 to 2008 by half the rate that it did the prior ten years. A growth rate of 12.0 percent should result in 27,400 additional jobs (to 255,300 - see Table I-1). Another 26,868 persons, or 9.1 percent of the workforce, are expected to reach retirement age over the forecast period. Turnover, as a source of job openings, will increase as Wyoming's labor market continues its shift towards the Services Producing sector. And faster national growth, especially for occupations requiring education, will intensify the competition for Wyoming's labor.

The Workforce

  • In effect, over the course of the projection period (1998-2008) a large share of Wyoming's workforce will mature into the age category (45-54) of greatest wage and salary earnings.


  • Most young workers (those in the <16, 16-19, and 20-24 age groups) found primary employment in 1998 in Retail Trade (18,642) and Services (11,134), with a fair number in Construction (4,302). These industries, therefore, are more dependent than most on a steady supply of young workers.


  • Mining, Manufacturing, Transportation, Communications, & Public Utilities (TCPU), Wholesale Trade, and Government all employ a substantial percentage of workers between the ages of 45 and 54. These workers will reach the traditional retirement age, or may have an option to retire early, in the next 10-15 years.

Worker Utilization

  • By improving the utilization rate of human resources in Services, Retail Trade, Construction or other growing industries to a level, say, equivalent to TCPU (81.8%), Wyoming's current supply of labor may be able to meet the demand for labor and more fully tap workers' potential.


  • The earnings gap is much greater in Services where women, at the peak of their earnings age bracket, earn only 44.2 percent ($16,099) of male earnings ($36,389). In Retail Trade, females earn only 44.6 percent of their male counterparts.


  • In 1998, 43.7 percent of the workforce worked for the same employer and an additional 3.8 percent had consistent work opportunities (not necessarily in the same industry) but changed employers. Though there are individual exceptions in the other categories, the majority of workers had a more tenuous relationship with the market.

The Workplace

  • As the education required to work in a specific occupation increases, the opportunities for private sector employment in Wyoming decrease relative to the five destination states to which Wyoming's population is most likely to migrate and the U.S.


  • Most of the emerging occupations in the U.S. (21 of 30) with the greatest percent growth over the next decade will require at least post secondary education. However, only 12 of Wyoming's 30 emerging occupations will require experience beyond on-the-job training.


  • The majority of net growth occupations in Wyoming assign comparatively low importance to technical skills.


  • With the population, containing the supply of labor, estimated to have decreased between 1998 and 1999 (down from 480,045 to 479,602), continued growth in Services is likely to be constrained unless it utilizes human capital more efficiently.

Workforce Development System

  • Given the lower levels of utilization, worker attachment, worker earnings, and higher turnover rates for the Services Producing sector, it is not clear that the workforce benefits extensively from non-selective One-Stop services driven by the volume of transactions generated by Services.


  • To the extent that employee replacement need is industry wide, it is not clear how firms losing employees to retirement will be able to recruit from a less mature workforce in the same industry.


  • One of the challenges faced by junior colleges or technical schools, in particular, is to determine a response to the steady demand for either lower-skilled workers or educated workers who will accept low paying jobs.



Wyoming's ability to attract, train, and retain labor occurs in a competitive regional and national market. To understand how Wyoming employers compete for skilled labor, we first need to identify Wyoming's workforce. Chapter 1 briefly examines employment change by industry, identifying where Wyoming workers currently work, and describes each major industry's workforce in terms of gender, age, and earnings. Chapter 2 identifies how employers and workers interact with each other. The analysis examines how industries utilize their human resources and the levels of attachment categories of workers have for the industries in which they work. In examining the relationship between utilization and labor attachment, Chapter 2 also examines demographic differences among workers and two types of employee exits from the labor market--retirement and employee turnover. Chapter 3 describes changes in the structure of occupational demand in Wyoming, how these changes relate to worker exits that occur in the labor market, and how the occupational changes expected to occur in Wyoming compare to regional and national trends. Chapter 4 provides a limited view of some of the job skills associated with the fastest growing occupations in Wyoming. Chapter 5 provides a wage analysis of the occupational projections in Chapter 3. This chapter also examines the correlation between experience/ educational levels and wage differences between Wyoming, the nation, and the states to which the Wyoming population is most likely to migrate (destination states). Finally, in Chapter 6, our analysis concludes with an application of national industrial staffing patterns and employment data to compare the competitive opportunities for private-sector and public-sector employment in Wyoming, the nation, and five destination states.

In Outlook 2000: Joint Economic & Demographic Forecast to 2008, the principal unit of analysis is jobs by industry. By industry, we mean firms grouped in terms of goods or services produced. In contrast, the focus of our measures in this publication frequently changes. Within each chapter, we share data and investigate issues related to change in the occupational level by shifting among several units of analysis:  industries, firms, jobs, individuals, occupations, and the interaction between them. This broader approach enables us, for example, to describe the behavior of industry trends in terms of the number of jobs (the employer's perspective) and the number of individuals affected (the employee's perspective).

Because an understanding of these units of analysis is important to all aspects of this report, they deserve to be reviewed here. A 'unit of analysis' is the basic operational definition used in the collection and organization of information.

Industries refer to the activities in which establishments (firms) are primarily engaged and by which they can be grouped and categorized. The Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) coding system1 is used to assign firms within one of 10 major industries, divided between two industrial sectors, Goods Producing and Services Producing. The Goods Producing sector includes four major industries: Agriculture, Mining, Construction, and Manufacturing. The Services Producing sector includes the six remaining major industries: Transportation, Communications, & Public Utilities (TCPU); Wholesale Trade; Retail Trade; Finance, Insurance, & Real Estate (FIRE); Services; and Government. Each of the 10 major industries can be divided further into subcategories. The SIC assigns each industry up to a four-digit code. For example:

SIC 1.           Mining
SIC 10.              Metal Mining
SIC 101.            Iron Ores
SIC 102.            Copper Ores
SIC 109.            Miscellaneous Metal Ores
SIC 1094.               Uranium-Radium-Vanadium Ores
SIC 1099.               Miscellaneous Metal Ores, Not Elsewhere Classified
SIC 12.              Coal Mining

Firms refer to the establishments, publicly and privately owned, that employ workers. The firm may employ workers at a single location (e.g., a locally owned and operated cafe) or among several locations (i.e., chain department stores or state agencies often employ people in locations statewide).

Jobs refer to the number of opportunities for work available, as reported by firms. Jobs can be either 'occupied' or 'vacant,' and they can be characterized further in terms of occupation and associated skills. A count of jobs is not a count of people, because people can hold more than one job with different employers and in different industries. The ES-202 Employer Database maintained by the Wyoming Department of Employment is a compilation of employer reported data collected from the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program and supplemented by statistical surveys. The data include employer characteristics such as employer unit, the number of jobs (but not the number of occupants of those jobs), and total wages. The data are reported quarterly by each firm required to pay Unemployment Insurance taxes. A summary of the data is published annually.2

Individuals refer to the number of people participating in the labor market, without regard to the number of sequential or concurrent jobs they hold during a given time period. The Wage Records Database (a companion of the ES-202 employer database) identifies by Social Security Number (SSN) each individual employed by a firm and that individual's quarterly wages. When SSNs are matched to demographic data (e.g., age, gender) contained in other administrative databases (e.g., Driver's License, Employment Services) and firm data contained in the ES-202, we can characterize the distribution of Wyoming employees among industries.

To be technically correct and to avoid confusion in our discussion of labor supply, occupations will not be treated as distinct units of analysis. Rather, the term will be used in this publication to describe two other units of analysis mentioned above: the characteristics of a job (e.g., the position of computer programmer) and the educational and skill level attained by an individual (e.g., the computer programmer herself). The term occupation is defined by the context of its use.

Transactions as units of analysis can be divided into two categories: market and non-market activities over time.
a)      Market transactions include the exchange of labor for compensation, hiring and exits from and to employment, and the duration and type of worker incumbency.
b)      In addition to employer-worker transactions, there are worker and employer transactions with market support institutions such as Unemployment Insurance, training entities, and workforce development agencies (e.g., agencies which, when taken in their sum, are more popularly known as the Workforce Development System).

Because shifting among units of analysis sometimes creates confusion for those unfamiliar with the vocabulary of labor economics, we have incorporated page tabs in this publication to help readers identify the location of data and discussions related to the specific units of analysis. The report also includes a glossary.

1 Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, Standard Industrial Classification Manual, 1987.

2 Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning, Where Are the Jobs? What Do They Pay?: 1998 Annual Covered Employment and Wages, December 1999.


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Last modified on August 10, 2001 by Valerie A. Davis.