Wyoming Unemployment Unchanged
by: David Bullard, Senior Economist
Wyoming job growth (measured on an over-the-year basis) slowed slightly in March (200 jobs or 0.1%), while the U.S. continued to lose jobs (-301,000 jobs or -0.2%). Wyoming’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent, almost two percentage points below the U.S. rate (5.8%).
From February to March, Wyoming added 1,200 jobs or 0.5 percent. This increase is considerably lower than the average gain during the past four years (3,300 jobs). Construction employment fell by 200 jobs and Retail Trade fell by 100 jobs. In most years, these industries add jobs in March. This year’s changes are not outside of the normal error ranges for the estimates. Wholesale Trade added 200 jobs (2.9%), Professional & Business Services added 400 jobs (2.7%) and Government added 600 jobs (0.9%). The below-average employment increase in March may be related to a severe winter storm which struck the state March 18th and 19th.
Wyoming employment grew by 200 jobs or 0.1 percent when compared to March 2002. This growth rate falls toward the lower end of the range seen during the past six months (0.0% to 0.6%). Job losses continued in Natural Resources & Mining (-400 jobs or -2.2%), Manufacturing (-500 jobs or -5.4%), and Transportation & Utilities (-200 jobs or -1.8%). Modest job gains were reported in Construction (100 jobs or 0.6%), Wholesale Trade (100 jobs or 1.4%), Retail Trade (100 jobs or 0.3%), Information (100 jobs or 2.4%), and Educational & Health Services (100 jobs or 0.5%). Financial Activities (400 jobs or 4.1%) and Government (500 jobs or 0.8%) experienced more substantial job growth.
Lincoln and Fremont counties continued to post the highest unemployment rates in March (both 7.7%). They were followed by Carbon (6.8%) and Uinta (6.1%) counties. From February to March, unemployment fell in 21 of Wyoming’s 23 counties. Teton County was the only county where unemployment increased from February to March (up from 3.9% to 4.0%). On an over-the-year basis, unemployment rates were mixed. The largest decreases were seen in Hot Springs County (down from 6.6% to 3.6%), Washakie County (down from 7.1% to 5.1%), and Big Horn County (down from 7.2% to 5.7%). It appears that a large part of these decreases was related to layoffs in Natural Resources & Mining that occurred during 2002, but were not repeated in 2003.
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