Wyoming Unemployment Growth
Rate Inches Upward in February
by: David Bullard, Senior Economist
Wyoming employment growth (measured on an over-the-year basis) increased to 0.8 percent in February, while the U.S. continued to lose jobs (-206,000 jobs or -0.2%). * Wyoming’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was virtually unchanged at 4.1 percent in February, well below U.S. unemployment of 5.8 percent. Wyoming’s civilian labor force (the sum of all employed and unemployed individuals) grew by a healthy 1.6 percent over the year.
From January to February, Wyoming added 400 jobs (0.2%). Seasonal decreases appeared in Construction (-200 jobs or -1.1%), Manufacturing (-400 jobs or -4.3%), and Retail Trade (-500 jobs or -1.7%). As expected, employment increased in Government (800 jobs or 1.3%), Leisure & Hospitality (500 jobs or 1.9%), and Professional & Business Services (300 jobs or 2.1%).
Wyoming employment grew by 1,800 jobs or 0.8 percent when compared to February 2002. During the previous six months, over-the-year employment growth has ranged from 0.0 to 0.7 percent. Despite a slow national economy and job losses in Natural Resources & Mining (-800 jobs or -4.4%), Manufacturing (-200 jobs or -2.2%), and Transportation, Warehousing, & Utilities (-200 jobs or -1.8%), many sectors added jobs in February. The largest over-the-year gains were in Construction (800 jobs or 4.7%), Retail Trade (500 jobs or 1.8%), Financial Activities (400 jobs or 4.1%), and Government (1,000 jobs or 1.6%). After years of rapid growth, Educational & Health Services job gains slowed to a mere 100 workers or 0.5 percent in February.
Most county unemployment rates changed little in February. However, large increases in unemployment were seen in Niobrara County (up from 3.5% in February 2002 to 5.3% in February 2003), Johnson County (up from 3.4% to 4.9%), Converse County (up from 5.0% to 6.2%), and Campbell County (up from 3.7% to 4.7%). Unemployment decreased significantly in Hot Springs County (down from 6.7% to 4.9%), Big Horn County (down from 7.7% to 6.2%), and Washakie County (down from 6.8% to 5.6%). Lincoln and Fremont counties posted the highest unemployment rates (both 7.9%).
*For details on U.S. employment, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics website at <http://stats.bls.gov/>.
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