© Copyright 2005 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning


Vol. 42 No. 4    



Covered Employment and Wages for Third Quarter 2004: Total Payroll Increases by 7.1 Percent

by: David Bullard, Senior Economist

tables by:  Nancy Brennan, Economist


Unemployment Insurance (UI) covered employment increased by 5,040 jobs or 2.0 percent during third quarter 2004 compared to third quarter 2003. Third quarter’s employment increase is consistent with the five-year average growth rate of 1.9 percent (see Table 1). Total payroll increased by $130.2 million or 7.1 percent, slightly higher than its five-year average (5.7%). Average weekly wage increased by $28 or 5.1 percent, slightly higher than its five-year average (3.7%). Additionally, employment increased in every region during third quarter. 

Table 2 shows that employment growth slowed slightly during third quarter 2004. Total payroll continued to grow at about the same rate as in first and second quarters (see Figure). Part of the reason for the slight slowdown in employment growth is related to the unusual amount of construction activity that occurred during third quarter 2003. This year’s employment figures for Construction indicate a return to more normal employment levels in that industry. 

Statewide Employment and Wages by Industry

The purpose of this article is to show employment and payroll changes between third quarter 2003 and third quarter 2004. These economic changes help us gauge the strength of Wyoming’s economy and identify the fastest and slowest growing industries and geographic areas.

The largest job gains occurred in Mining, State Government, Health Care & Social Assistance, Local Government, and Transportation & Warehousing (see Table 3).

Mining added 1,773 jobs or 9.3 percent during third quarter. Higher energy prices have led to increased natural gas drilling activity. 

The apparent increase in State Government employment and payroll resulted from the correction of a previous reporting error detected by a new payroll system in a unit of state government. 

Employment in Health Care & Social Assistance increased by 792 jobs or 4.2 percent. This industry was also affected by noneconomic code changes (see box accompanying this article). In particular, a large employer had its code changed from administrative & support services (NAICS 561) to social assistance (NAICS 624; see Table 3). Another large employer changed from private ownership to local government (and thus moved from Health Care & Social Assistance to Local Government).

Local Government employment grew by 494 jobs or 1.4 percent. Part of this increase was due to an ownership change of a nursing & residential care facility (NAICS 623) from private ownership to local government control.

Transportation & Warehousing created 424 jobs (6.0%) during third quarter. Large gains were seen in truck transportation and warehousing & storage.

Although Table 3 shows that employment decreased by 982 jobs (or 11.6%) in Administrative & Waste Services, this is partially due to various large employers’ code changes from Administrative & Support Services (NAICS 561) to various subsectors (including Health Care & Social Assistance). This industry was also affected by layoffs at telemarketing firms.

Employment fell by 1,076 jobs or 4.9 percent in Construction. There was an unusual amount of construction activity during the late summer of 2003, and this year’s employment levels indicate a return to more normal levels.

Employment in Management of Companies & Enterprises was affected by noneconomic code changes of 160 employees from Mining and Construction.

Employment and Wages by County

As shown in Table 4, employment increased in every region during third quarter. 

Sweetwater County gained 961 jobs (or 4.9%) during third quarter. Mining (including oil & gas) continued to dominate the job gains. Employment fell slightly in Construction and Manufacturing, but increased in Retail Trade, Transportation & Warehousing, and Accommodation & Food Services. Since early 2003, rapid growth in the oil & gas sector has been causing Sweetwater County to grow at a faster rate than the state as a whole.

Campbell County grew by 515 jobs or 2.4 percent in third quarter. Similar to the situation in Sweetwater County, job growth was strong in Mining (including oil & gas), but job losses were seen in Construction. 

Sublette County added 268 jobs or 8.7 percent during third quarter. Job gains occurred in Mining (including oil & gas), Construction, and Government. Since the beginning of 2002, Sublette County has been growing much faster than the rest of the state, mostly as a result of increased natural gas drilling.

Several counties had lower employment in third quarter 2004. Employment fell by 547 jobs or 8.3 percent in Lincoln County because of the completion of construction projects. Uinta County faced a similar situation with employment falling by 341 jobs or 3.8 percent. Park County’s job losses were concentrated in Retail Trade and Accommodation & Food Services.

Employment grew by 1,788 jobs or 5.2 percent in Natrona County (see Table 5). Again, Mining (including oil & gas) was responsible for the largest job gains (636 jobs or 24.8%). Other growing industries included Wholesale Trade (204 jobs or 9.4%), Retail Trade (278 jobs or 6.0%), Health Care & Social Assistance (235 jobs or 5.5%) and Accommodation & Food Services (108 jobs or 3.6%). The job losses in Administrative & Waste Services (-376 jobs or -17.9%) were partially related to employer reclassifications out of this sector, as well as real job losses in the telemarketing industry.

Laramie County grew at a somewhat slower pace than the state as a whole. Table 6 shows that it added 374 jobs for a growth rate of 0.9 percent. Healthy employment growth appeared in Transportation & Warehousing (275 jobs or 20.0%), Health Care & Social Assistance (269 jobs or 9.6%), and Accommodation & Food Services (119 jobs or 2.8%). Job losses occurred in Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, Information, Finance & Insurance, Management of Companies & Enterprises, Administrative & Waste Services, and Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation.

In summary, Wyoming’s economy grew at a healthy pace during third quarter. Mining (including oil & gas) experienced the strongest employment growth, but some growth was seen in almost every industry sector and in every region of the state.

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