© Copyright 2006 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning


Vol. 43 No. 7

Total Payroll Up, Job Growth Continued in Fourth Quarter 2005

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


In fourth quarter 2005, total Unemployment Insurance (UI) covered payroll grew by $206 million or 9.9% over the previous year, much higher than its five-year average (6.2%; see Table 1). Wyoming’s average weekly wage increased by $37 or 5.8%, also above its five-year average (3.9%); Employment rose at a faster-than-average pace (4.0% in fourth quarter compared to the five-year average growth of 2.3%). Natrona County’s total payroll increased by $34.5 million or 10.9%, with about one-third of the growth coming from the Mining sector (including oil & gas). In Laramie County, total payroll grew by $20.4 million or 6.3%, and Local Government (including public schools, colleges, and hospitals) was the largest contributor to the increase.

The Figure shows that employment growth has accelerated from 0.1% in first quarter 2003 to 4.0% in fourth quarter 2005. Growth in total wages increased from 2.4% in fourth quarter 2002 to 11.7% in third quarter 2005, and then decreased slightly to 9.9% in fourth quarter 2005 (see Table 2).

Statewide Employment and Wages by Sector

The purpose of this article is to show employment and payroll changes between fourth quarter 2004 and fourth quarter 2005. 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, Construction, Local Government, Transportation & Warehousing, and Retail Trade (see Table 3.)

High energy prices appear to be driving growth in the Mining sector. In fourth quarter, Mining (including oil & gas) added 2,664 jobs or 12.6%. Growth occurred in all three subsectors: oil & gas extraction added about 350 jobs, mining (except oil & gas) added almost 500 jobs, and support activities for mining added over 1,800 jobs.

Construction employment increased by 2,472 jobs or 12.7% in fourth quarter. Job gains in Construction may be related to growth in the housing stock, school construction, and pipelines being built in the state.

In fourth quarter, Local Government added 854 jobs or 2.1%. Employment increased in Educational Services (including public school districts), Health Care & Social Assistance (including public hospitals), and Public Administration (including cities, towns, & counties).

Transportation & Warehousing grew by 685 jobs or 9.3% in fourth quarter. Growth was spread across many subsectors, but the largest gains appeared in truck transportation (over 300 jobs) and warehousing & storage (over 100 jobs). Air transportation; transit & ground transportation; and pipeline transportation all added jobs.

Retail Trade added 575 jobs or 1.9%. Employment fell in several subsectors including food stores, gasoline stations, and clothing stores. Growth appeared strongest in motor vehicles & parts dealers; building materials & garden supplies dealers; sporting goods, hobby, book, & music stores; and general merchandise stores.

Employment in Health Care & Social Assistance increased by 318 jobs or 1.6%. The fastest growing subsector was private hospitals, which added 84 jobs or 3.0%. Nursing & residential care facilities gained 106 jobs or 2.4%. Ambulatory health care services (the subsector which includes offices of physicians) grew by a slower than average 1.2% (a gain of 88 jobs).

Minor job losses occurred in Information (-8 jobs or -0.2%), Management of Companies & Enterprises (-26 jobs or -3.3%), Federal Government (-208 jobs or -2.8%), and State Government (-38 jobs or -0.3%).

Employment and Wages by County

In fourth quarter, job growth occurred in 22 of Wyoming’s 23 counties (see Table 4).

Campbell County added 2,258 jobs (10.4%) in fourth quarter. Employment increased in practically all sectors, but was strongest in Mining (especially coal mining and oil & gas extraction), Construction, Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, and Transportation & Warehousing.

Sweetwater County gained 1,361 jobs or 6.5%. Employment growth was fastest in Mining (including oil & gas), Construction, and Transportation & Warehousing.

Natrona County added 1,011 jobs or 2.8% in fourth quarter (see Table 5). Mining employment (including oil & gas) increased by 402 jobs or 12.0%. Manufacturing gained 136 jobs (8.1%) and Local Government gained 106 jobs (2.7%). Employment fell slightly in Professional & Technical Services, private Educational Services, Health Care & Social Assistance, and Federal Government.

Table 6 shows that Laramie County added 1,396 jobs or 3.5% in fourth quarter. Local Government (including public schools and hospitals) gained 342 jobs or 5.7%. Construction employment grew rapidly, adding 293 jobs or 11.0%. Retail Trade gained 246 jobs (4.4%) and Health Care & Social Assistance gained 126 jobs (4.1%). Modest job losses were seen in Information; Finance & Insurance; Real Estate & Rental & Leasing; Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation; Accommodation & Food Services; Other Services; and Federal Government.

In fourth quarter, Teton County employment grew by 698 jobs or 4.5%. Notable job gains were seen in Construction; Retail Trade; private Educational Services; and Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation.

Sublette County kept its place as the fastest growing county by adding 572 jobs (17.9%). The largest job gains were in Mining and Construction, but growth occurred throughout most sectors. Park County lost 3 jobs (0.0%) in fourth quarter. Employment fell slightly in Construction; Manufacturing; Transportation & Warehousing; Administrative & Waste Services; and Accommodation & Food Services, but grew in most other sectors.

In summary, employment growth accelerated to 4.0% in fourth quarter 2005. Construction and Mining (including oil & gas) were the fastest growing sectors and created the largest numbers of new jobs. Job gains occurred in all but one county.

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