Wyoming Benefits Survey 2012



Selected Wyoming Labor Market Data


Wyoming's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell below the U.S. rate in October 2000 and has remained below it since. From April 2011 to July 2012, Wyoming's unemployment rate ranged from 5.5% to 6.1% (see Figure 1). During the same period the U.S. unemployment rate ranged from 8.1% to 9.0%. As of July 2012 Wyoming's unemployment rate was 5.5% while the U.S. unemployment rate was 8.2% (Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, 2012).

Initial Claims
Initial claims measure the number of claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits filed by individuals. This measurement is useful for analytical purposes because it can provide insight into the direction of the economy. Higher initial claims can be a sign of a weakening economy. The U.S. Department of Labor defines initial claims as "Any notice of unemployment filed (1) to request a determination of entitlement to and eligibility for compensation or (2) to begin a second or subsequent period of eligibility within a benefit year or period of eligibility."1
Continued claims
Continued claims (or weeks claimed) measure the number of weeks that UI benefits were claimed during a specific period. In some cases, including economic downturns or recessions, Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) weeks are included. In Wyoming Labor Force Trends, the monthly continued claims data for EUC are shown separately.

1Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workforce Security. Division of Fiscal and Actuarial Services. UI Data Summary, 3rd Quarter CY 2002.

Figure 1

Figure 2

The effects of the national recession on Wyoming employment were not evident until first quarter 2009 when employment declined by 1.0% from first quarter 2008 (see Figure 2; Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, n.d.). Second quarter 2008 to fourth quarter 2009 marked six straight quarters of declining employment and the end of a 21-year period of increasing payroll and employment in Wyoming. Employment stabilized in third quarter 2010, and growth remained positive throughout the remainder of 2010 and into first quarter 2012, albeit at levels significantly lower than prior to first quarter 2009. For example, in first quarter 2012, employment grew at 2.5% over the year, compared to 3.6% in first quarter 2008. For additional details about wages and employment in Wyoming, see to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages page.

Wyoming Unemployment Insurance Claims

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5

An increase in Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims activity coincided with the economic downturn in Wyoming. Late 2008 saw the beginning of significant increases in initial UI claims (see Figure 3), the number of weeks claimed (see Figure 4), and the number and percentage of individuals who exhausted their UI benefits (see Figure 5). From October 2007 to October 2008, the number of initial claims increased from 2,026 to 2,705 (38.2%). The number of initial claims spiked in December 2009 at 5,975. However, the over-the-year percentage change was highest in May 2009, when claims rose by 185.6% from May 2008. The number of claims began to fall in January 2010, and by July 2012 initial claims declined to 2,333.

As more people were filing initial claims, the number of weeks of benefits claimed also rose. The number of weeks of benefits claimed was greatest in January 2010, when 53,920 continued weeks were claimed. In September 2011, the number of weeks claimed fell to 16,443, which was more consistent with what had been seen prior to the state's economic downturn. The largest over-the-year percentage increase in the number of weeks claimed occurred in July 2009 (334.4%). As of July 2012, the number of weeks claimed decreased by 9.3% over the year.

The number and percentage of individuals who exhausted their UI benefits rose significantly from 2008 to 2009 (see Figure 5). In 2008 there were 3,450 individuals who exhausted their benefits and the exhaustion rate was 20.4%. By 2010 the number rose to 12,304 and the rate had risen to 35.8%. By 2011 the number who exhausted their benefits declined to 8,710 or 31.4%. For additional information about UI claims, go to R&P's Unemployment Insurance Statistics page at http://doe.state.wy.us/LMI/ui.htm.

Previous: The Great Recession and Financial Security | Next: Survey Response Rates, Methodology, and Analysis Procedures