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


Vol. 42 No. 7    


Covered Employment and Wages for Fourth Quarter 2004: Healthy Employment Growth Continues

by: David Bullard, Senior Economist

tables by: Nancy Brennan, Economist


Unemployment Insurance (UI) covered employment increased by 5,519 jobs, or 2.3%, during fourth quarter 2004 compared to fourth quarter 2003. Fourth quarter’s employment increase is slightly higher than the five-year average growth rate of 1.9% (see Table 1). Total payroll increased by $124.8 million, or 6.4%, also higher than its five-year average (5.8%). Average weekly wage increased by $25, or 4.0%, slightly higher than its five-year average (3.8%) and higher than inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (3.5% in November 2004). Additionally, employment increased in every region during fourth quarter.

Table 2 shows that employment growth was slower during third and fourth quarter 2004 than the first half of the year. Part of the reason for the slowdown in employment growth is related to the unusual amount of construction activity that occurred during late summer and fall 2003. This year’s employment figures for Construction indicate a return to usual employment levels in that industry. Growth in total payroll also fell slightly in fourth quarter (see Figure).

Statewide Employment and Wages by Industry

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

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

Mining (including oil & gas) added 1,920 jobs, or 10.0%, during fourth quarter. Wyoming has continued to benefit from relatively high energy prices and increased natural gas drilling.

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.

Accommodation & Food Services grew by 808 jobs, or 3.1%, in fourth quarter. Food services and drinking places added 581 jobs, or 3.4%, while accommodation increased by 227 jobs, or 2.5%.

Health Care & Social Assistance added 712 jobs, or 3.8%. Job gains were seen in ambulatory health care services as well as social services. Employment fell slightly in private hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities. This industry was also affected by noneconomic code changes (see box accompanying this article on page 15). In particular, a large employer had its code changed from administrative & support services (NAICS 561) to social assistance (NAICS 624). Another large employer changed from private ownership to local government (and thus moved from Health Care & Social Assistance to Local Government on Table 3).

Local Government employment increased by 528 jobs (1.3%). 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.

Although Table 3 shows that employment decreased by 1,027 jobs (13.6%) 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 727 jobs, or 3.6%, 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 19 of Wyoming’s 23 counties during fourth quarter.

Sweetwater County added 1,147 jobs in the fourth quarter, giving it an employment growth rate of 5.8%. Employment in Sweetwater County’s oil & gas industry grew rapidly. Jobs were also added in Accommodation & Food Services and Transportation & Warehousing.

Campbell County employment grew faster than the statewide average, adding 731 jobs (3.5%). Job growth occurred in Construction, Manufacturing, and Local Government, but the most dramatic increase was in Mining (including oil & gas).

Fremont County gained 422 jobs, or 2.9%, during fourth quarter. The industry that added the largest number of jobs was Accommodation & Food Services. Employment fell slightly in Manufacturing, but grew in Mining, Information, and Educational Services.

In percentage terms, Sublette County was the fastest growing county in the state. It added 386 jobs, or 13.8%. Construction and oil & gas added the most jobs, but growth also occurred in Accommodation & Food Services and all levels of Government.

Employment fell by 366 jobs, or 5.9%, in Lincoln County because of the completion of construction projects. Despite the job losses in Construction, gains were seen in Mining (including oil & gas), Retail Trade, Health Care & Social Assistance, Accommodation & Food Services, and Government.

Uinta County lost 416 jobs (4.6%) in fourth quarter. Job losses in Construction were partially offset by gains in Mining, Transportation & Warehousing, Information, and Health Care & Social Assistance.

Employment fell by 119 jobs, or 2.9%, in Goshen County. Job losses were spread across several sectors, including Construction, Manufacturing, Health Care & Social Assistance, and Accommodation & Food Services.

Natrona County grew by 2,038 jobs, or 6.0%, during fourth quarter (see Table 5). Job gains were seen in almost every sector. Mining (including oil & gas) produced the largest number of new jobs (635 or 23.6%), but growth was also seen in Construction (56 jobs or 2.4%), Manufacturing (101 jobs or 6.4%), Wholesale Trade (205 jobs or 9.5%), Retail Trade (277 jobs or 5.8%), Health Care & Social Assistance (318 jobs or 7.4%), and Accommodation & Food Services (329 jobs or 11.6%). Employment fell in Administrative & Waste Services (-334 jobs or -19.2%) partially as a result of job losses in telemarketing firms, and partially because of code changes to other sectors.

Table 6 shows that the total level of employment in Laramie County was practically unchanged from a year earlier (a gain of 7 jobs or 0.0%). Job losses in Retail Trade (-179 jobs or -3.1%), Information (-66 jobs or -6.3%), and Administrative & Waste Services (-434 jobs or -22.0%) were offset by gains in Transportation & Warehousing (214 jobs or 15.2%), Health Care & Social Assistance (170 jobs or 5.8%), and Local Government (208 jobs or 3.6%).

In summary, Wyoming’s economy grew at a healthy pace during fourth quarter. The Mining sector (including oil & gas) experienced the strongest employment growth, but some growth was seen in almost every industry sector and in 19 of Wyoming’s 23 counties.







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