© Copyright 2003 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning


Covered Employment and Wages for Fourth Quarter 2002

by: David Bullard, Senior Economist
tables by: Nancy Brennan, Economist

Unemployment Insurance (UI) covered employment1 increased by 910 jobs or 0.4 percent during fourth quarter 2002 compared to fourth quarter 2001. Fourth quarter’s employment increase is significantly lower than the five-year average growth of 1.8 percent, marking a slowdown in Wyoming job growth (Table 1). Total private employment fell by 541 jobs or 0.3 percent, but job gains in Government (1,450 jobs or 2.5%) more than made up the difference. Job losses occurred primarily in Mining, Construction, and Manufacturing. This overall slowdown in job growth has been seen in the Current Employment Statistics data for several months (see the table and line chart). Total payroll increased by 2.4 percent, well below the five-year average of 5.8 percent. Average weekly wages increased by $12 or 2.0 percent, also below its five-year average of 3.9 percent. 

Table 2 and the Figure show that growth in employment and total wages has been slowing since first quarter 2002. In first quarter, employment grew by 1.5 percent, and the growth rate fell each successive quarter until reaching 0.4 percent in fourth quarter. Payroll growth stood at 6.5 percent in first quarter, and fell to 2.4 percent in fourth quarter. 

Some industries followed the statewide trend in employment and payroll, while others were unaffected. Mining and Construction saw payroll growth decline from over 10 percent in first quarter to negative figures in fourth quarter. Transportation & Warehousing and Administrative & Waste Services bucked the trend and payroll growth increased steadily during 2002. Payroll growth in Accommodations & Food Services and Health Care & Social Assistance was stable during 2002.

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 the correct North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. If it is found that an employer has changed primary business activity, a new NAICS code is assigned to reflect that change. Research staff also review employers’ NAICS codes if the business is sold, 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, as large employers may have moved from one NAICS sector to another.

Table 3 shows that Accommodation & Food Services, Local Government, Retail Trade, Administrative & Waste Services, and State Government created the largest number of jobs in fourth quarter. 

Accommodation & Food Services gained 1,398 jobs or 5.7 percent, although part of this increase was due to a “noneconomic code change.” A firm that was previously classified in Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation (NAICS 71) was reclassified into Accommodation & Food Services (NAICS 72). Industry codes are changed because businesses sometimes find a more profitable niche in the economy, diversify as they grow, or become more specialized.

Local Government grew by 695 jobs or 1.8 percent. Gains were seen throughout local government, including publicly-owned hospitals, educational services (school districts and community colleges), and public administration (offices of cities, towns, and counties).

Retail Trade added 563 jobs or 1.9 percent during fourth quarter. Within Retail Trade the employment situation was mixed. Several subsectors lost jobs, such as gasoline stations (-200 jobs) and nonstore retailers (-100 jobs), while others grew rapidly including building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers (500 jobs) and general merchandise stores (150 jobs).

State Government added 450 jobs or 3.7 percent during fourth quarter. Gains were seen in educational services (150 jobs) and public administration.

Mining employment fell by 1,611 jobs or 8.4 percent during fourth quarter. Strong gains in coal mining were overshadowed by job losses in drilling oil & gas wells (-700 jobs), oil & gas extraction (-350 jobs), and support activities for oil & gas operations 
(-550 jobs).

Employment in Construction fell by 678 jobs or 3.3 percent during fourth quarter. Part of this decrease may be related to the completion of a gas plant project earlier in 2002.

The employment decrease in Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation was primarily the result of reclassification of firms to other industries (such as Accommodation & Food Services) rather than layoffs or other economic events. Similarly, Professional & Technical Services; Management of Companies & Enterprises; Administrative & Waste Services; Private Educational Services; and Other Services were affected by the reclassification of relatively large firms.

Manufacturing employment decreased by 533 jobs or 5.2 percent because of job losses in many subsectors, especially food manufacturing and chemical manufacturing. Manufacturing employment also fell because of the reclassification of firms into other industries, such as Wholesale Trade. 

Average weekly wage increased $12 or 2.0 percent. The largest increase in average weekly wage occurred in Management of Companies & Enterprises, where wages increased by $683 or 88.8 percent. This was the result of the reclassification of a small company from Manufacturing and the payment of large bonuses during fourth quarter.

Employment and Wages by County

As shown in Table 4, employment increased in 15 of Wyoming’s 23 counties during fourth quarter. In an effort to increase data quality, the Covered Employment and Wages unit has recently contacted many employers with “nonclassified” geographic codes in order to place them within counties. This has resulted in a significant decrease in employment in the “nonclassified” geographic designation, and corresponding 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.

Laramie County added 2,089 jobs (5.7%) during fourth quarter. Employment grew at all levels of government, but especially in Federal Government (100 jobs) and State Government (180 jobs). Within State Government, the largest gains were in administration of human resource programs (including health and education) and administration of economic programs (including transportation). Significant job gains were also seen in Construction, Retail Trade, Finance & Insurance, Accommodation & Food Services, and Health Care & Social Assistance.

Natrona County added 866 jobs or 2.7 percent during fourth quarter. Job losses in Mining (-250 jobs), Manufacturing (-90 jobs), and Transportation & Warehousing (-80 jobs) were more than offset by substantial job gains in Construction, Retail Trade, Real Estate & Rental & Leasing, Health Care & Social Assistance, and Accommodation & Food Services.

Sheridan County grew by 744 jobs or 6.8 percent during fourth quarter. The largest gains were in Administrative & Waste Services (80 jobs), Health Care & Social Assistance (200 jobs), Accommodation & Food Services (120 jobs), and Local Government (70 jobs).

In Teton County, 498 jobs (3.4%) were created in fourth quarter 2002. Employment growth appeared in many industries, including Retail Trade, Transportation & Warehousing, Administrative & Waste Services, and Accommodation & Food Services.

Sweetwater County lost 535 jobs (-2.8%) when compared to fourth quarter 2001. Significant job losses occurred in Mining, Construction, and Manufacturing.

Employment fell by 378 jobs (2.5%) in Fremont County. The largest job losses occurred in Mining, Construction, Transportation & Warehousing, and Retail Trade.

Average weekly wage increased in 19 Wyoming counties. The largest increase was seen in Sublette County where the average weekly wage grew by $53 or 9.9 percent. Uinta County’s average wage also increased substantially, growing by $47 or 9.0 percent.

1Approximately 85-90 percent of all workers in Wyoming are covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI). Some exceptions include the self-employed and many agricultural workers.

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