Copyright 2004 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning


Vol. 41 No. 4    



Covered Employment and Wages for Third Quarter 2003: Natrona County's Payroll up 8.1 Percent

by: David Bullard, Senior Economist

tables by: Nancy Brennan, Economist

Unemployment Insurance (UI) covered employment increased by 2,736 jobs or 1.1 percent during third quarter 2003 compared to third quarter 2002. Third quarter's employment increase is slightly lower than the five-year average growth of 1.8 percent (see Table 1). Total payroll increased by 4.5 percent, also below its five-year average (5.7%). Average weekly wage increased by $18 or 3.4 percent, just below its five-year average (3.7%).

Table 2  shows that after slowing for several quarters, the growth rate of employment bottomed out in first quarter 2003 (0.2%). Growth began to rebound in second quarter (0.6%), and increased further in third quarter (1.1%). The Figure shows that payroll growth stood at 6.5 percent in first quarter 2002, fell to 2.4 percent in fourth quarter 2002, and has since increased to 4.5 percent in third quarter 2003. The pattern of increasing employment growth has been seen in the Current Employment Statistics (CES) data for a few months now (see CES tables).

Statewide Employment and Wages by Industry

Each year, approximately one-third of the employers covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI) in Wyoming are contacted by mail questionnaire to confirm that they have been assigned to the correct industry category (e.g., Mining, Construction, Manufacturing) based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS; U.S. Census Bureau, 2002). If it is found that an employer has changed primary business activity, a different NAICS code is assigned to reflect that change. Research staff also review employers' NAICS codes if the business is sold, becomes incorporated, or otherwise changes ownership. In this manner, Research & Planning continuously ensures that employers are assigned to the correct industry category. However, such changes also make it difficult for data users to make direct comparisons across years. Sometimes, large employers may move from one NAICS sector to another.

Table 3 shows that Mining, Health Care & Social Assistance, Transportation & Warehousing, and Administrative & Waste Services created the most jobs in third quarter. 

Mining added 868 jobs or 4.8 percent during third quarter. The vast majority of job gains was in support activities for mining and is likely related to an increase in natural gas drilling activity around the state.

Health Care & Social Assistance grew by 732 jobs or 4.1 percent. Growth was strongest in ambulatory health care services (the industry which includes doctors' offices and clinics). Jobs were also added in nursing and residential care facilities and social assistance. However, employment fell slightly in private hospitals.

Employment in Transportation & Warehousing grew by 389 jobs or 5.8 percent in third quarter. The largest increase was in warehousing and storage, but employment also grew in support activities for transportation. Employment in most other transportation subindustries was stable.

Administrative & Waste Services added 342 jobs or 4.3 percent. Employment services (including temporary help agencies) grew by 200 jobs. 

Job losses in Retail Trade (-205 jobs or -0.7%) were largely the result of reclassification of firms to other industries (non-economic code changes). Similarly, Real Estate & Rental & Leasing and Management of Companies & Enterprises were affected by code changes rather than economic events.

Employment and Wages by County

As shown in Table 4, employment increased in 13 of Wyoming's 23 counties during third quarter. In an effort to increase data quality, the Covered Employment and Wages unit has continued to contact many employers with "nonclassified" geographic codes in order to place them within appropriate counties. This has resulted in a significant decrease in employment in the "nonclassified" geographic designation and corresponding employment increases in many counties throughout the state. While the long-run result will be higher-quality data, initially some of the employment increases at the county level may simply be interpreted as more accurate reporting, rather than actual increases in the number of jobs in the counties.

Sweetwater County added 954 jobs or 5.1 percent. Large job gains were seen across many industries, including Mining, Construction, Administrative & Waste Services, and Health Care & Social Assistance. Government employment was flat or down slightly.

Employment grew by 918 jobs or 16.3 percent in Lincoln County, mostly as the result of job gains in Mining and Construction. Employment in other industries was stable.

Although Table 4 shows that Park County added 678 jobs (5.0%), this growth is mostly the result of the reclassification of a large employer from Teton County.

Employment grew by 1,015 jobs or 3.1 percent in Natrona County (see Table 5). Large job gains occurred in Mining (516 jobs or 25.1%), Construction (247 jobs or 10.7%), and Administrative & Waste Services (235 jobs or 12.6%). Health Care & Social Assistance grew by 158 jobs or 3.9 percent. The employment decline in Real Estate & Rental & Leasing (-219 jobs or -21.5%) was the result of the reclassification of a large firm to another industry, rather than an economic event. Total payroll grew by 8.1 percent in Natrona County. The largest contributors to this increase were Mining and Construction. Average weekly wage increased by $26 (or 4.9%) to $557.

Laramie County added 776 jobs or 2.0 percent during third quarter (see Table 6). Health Care & Social Assistance grew by 316 jobs or 12.7 percent. Other industries with large job gains included Transportation & Warehousing (240 jobs or 21.3%), Construction (139 jobs or 5.3%), and Federal Government (137 jobs or 5.5%). 


U.S. Census Bureau. (2002, September 10). 2002 NAICS codes and titles. Retrieved December 18, 2003, from


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