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


Vol. 41 No. 7    



Covered Employment and Wages for Fourth Quarter 2003: Wyoming Pulls Out of Economic Slowdown

by: David Bullard, Senior Economist

tables by: Nancy Brennan, Economist

Unemployment Insurance (UI) covered employment increased by 4,078 jobs or 1.7 percent during fourth quarter 2003 compared to fourth quarter 2002. Fourth quarter’s employment increase is just below the five-year average growth rate of 1.9 percent (see Table 1). Total payroll increased by $107.2 million or 5.8 percent, matching its five-year average. Average weekly wage increased by $24 or 4.1 percent, marginally higher than its five-year average (3.8%). Additionally, employment increased in 15 of Wyoming’s 23 counties. Together, these facts suggest that Wyoming has recovered from the economic slowdown that prevailed during much of 2002 and 2003 (see Figure).

Table 2 shows that employment grew faster in fourth quarter 2003 than at any other time during 2002 or 2003. The Figure shows that payroll growth (5.8% during fourth quarter) continues to increase from the trough in fourth quarter 2002. This pattern of employment growth has been seen in the Current Employment Statistics (CES) data for a few months.

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 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 (NAICS 21), Health Care & Social Assistance (NAICS 62), Accommodation & Food Services (NAICS 72), Administrative & Waste Services (NAICS 56), and Transportation & Warehousing (NAICS 48-49) created the most jobs in fourth quarter.

Mining added 1,645 jobs or 9.4 percent during fourth 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 added 791 jobs or 4.4 percent during fourth quarter. Ambulatory health care services (the industry which includes doctors’ offices and clinics) grew at a rapid pace, adding 400 jobs. Jobs were also added in nursing & residential care facilities (100 jobs) and social assistance (250 jobs). However, employment was essentially unchanged in private hospitals.

Employment in Accommodation & Food Services grew by 509 jobs or 2.0 percent during fourth quarter.

Administrative & Waste Services added 318 jobs or 4.4 percent. Employment services (including temporary help agencies) grew by 300 jobs.

Employment in Transportation & Warehousing grew by 304 jobs or 4.5 percent in fourth quarter. Practically all of the increase was in warehousing & storage. Employment fell slightly in both truck transportation and air transportation.

Professional & Technical Services saw an employment decline of 108 jobs or 1.4 percent. Modest job losses occurred in accounting & payroll services; architectural, engineering & related services; and scientific research & development services.

Job losses in Retail Trade (-174 jobs or -0.6%) 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.

Although Table 3 shows Federal Government employment declining by 280 jobs or 3.7 percent, the actual decrease is much smaller. A problem was discovered in Federal Government employment reporting for December. This data inaccuracy was corrected for 2004, but the 2003 figures remain inflated, thus exaggerating the over-the-year decline. Because of the large federal employment in Park and Teton counties, these counties were disproportionately affected. Employment reports for federal government agencies are supplied to R&P by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Statewide total payroll increased by $107.2 million or 5.8 percent. Mining was by far the largest contributor to this gain, increasing by 31.0 million or 12.3 percent. Some other industries with large gains in total payroll in fourth quarter were Local Government (including public schools and hospitals--$11.5 million or 4.3%), Health Care & Social Assistance ($10.0 million or 6.9%), and Construction ($9.8 million or 5.6%).

Statewide average weekly wage increased by $24 or 4.1 percent in fourth quarter. Wages increased in all but two industries. Information’s average weekly wage decreased by $2 or 0.3 percent and Professional & Technical Services’ wage fell by $54 or 6.0 percent.

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 continued to contact many employers with “nonclassified” geographic codes in order to place them within appropriate counties. This data quality effort 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 the result of more accurate reporting, rather than actual increases in the number of jobs in the counties.

Sweetwater County led the state by adding 1,163 jobs (6.2%) during fourth quarter. Significant job gains were seen in Mining (including oil & gas), Construction, and Accommodation & Food Services. Government employment decreased slightly.

Lincoln County employment grew by 17.8 percent (931 jobs) during fourth quarter. As in previous quarters, the largest job gains were found in Mining and Construction. Employment was stable in most other industries.

Albany County added 485 jobs or 3.3 percent during fourth quarter. Job gains were seen across many industries, but were most pronounced in State Government, Health Care & Social Assistance, and Accommodations & Food Services.

Employment fell by 213 jobs or 1.4 percent in Teton County. Job losses in Construction and Federal Government (see discussion above) were partially offset by gains in Accommodations & Food Services.

Table 5 shows that Natrona County added 1,078 jobs or 3.3 percent during fourth quarter. Mining (including oil & gas) produced the largest number of new jobs (651 jobs or 32.0%). Construction (219 jobs or 10.2%) and Health Care & Social Assistance (186 jobs or 4.6%) also grew rapidly. The job losses in Wholesale Trade were the result of reclassifications to other industries, rather than an economic event. Total payroll increased by $24.5 million or 9.7 percent. The largest contributors to this increase were Mining ($8.4 million or 30.8%), Health Care & Social Assistance ($3.1 million or 8.5%), and Construction ($2.5 million or 13.7%). Average weekly wage increased by $37 or 6.2 percent.

Table 6 shows that employment increased by 1,041 jobs or 2.7 percent in Laramie County. Health Care & Social Assistance led job creation with a net gain of 397 jobs (15.8%). Other industries with significant growth included Transportation & Warehousing (288 jobs or 25.8%), Construction (120 jobs or 4.9%), Administrative & Waste Services (107 jobs or 5.7%), and Accommodation & Food Services (107 jobs or 2.7%). Job losses in Retail Trade and Management of Companies & Enterprises were the result of reclassifications to other industries. Total payroll increased by $12.7 million or 4.3 percent. The largest contributors to this increase were Health Care & Social Assistance ($3.3 million or 14.2%) and Local Government ($2.1 million or 4.9%).


U.S. Census Bureau. (2002, September 10). 2002 NAICS codes and titles. Retrieved December 18, 2003, from <http://www.census.gov/epcd/naics02/naicod02.htm>


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