Wyoming Employment Growth Up
by: David Bullard, Senior Economist
Wyoming employment growth (measured on an over-the-year basis) increased to 0.7 percent in June, while May employment was revised upward slightly to show 0.2 percent growth. The U.S. continued to lose jobs (-429,000 jobs or -0.3%). Wyoming’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly from 4.0 percent in May to 4.2 percent in June, and remained well below U.S. unemployment of 6.4 percent. Wyoming’s civilian labor force (the sum of all employed and unemployed individuals) grew by a healthy 2.3 percent over the year.
From May to June, Wyoming added 8,900 jobs or 3.5 percent. This seasonal increase was slightly larger than expected, since the average (May to June) growth during the past four years has been 8,100 jobs. Many industries added jobs in June, but the largest increases were in Construction (800 jobs or 3.9%), Retail Trade (1,000 jobs or 3.3%), and Leisure & Hospitality (5,200 jobs or 17.3%).
According to information provided by the U.S. Department of Defense for mid-June, a number of military reservists from Wyoming had come home, leaving a total of 144 on active duty. In concept, persons on active military duty for the entire survey reference period are not included on employer payrolls. To the extent that Wyoming employers do not replace these reservists with new workers, payroll counts will be lower than normal. Consequently, the over-the-year payroll job growth of 0.7 percent may have been constrained.
From June 2002 to June 2003, Wyoming added 1,700 jobs or 0.7 percent. For 12 consecutive months, employment growth has stayed below 1.0 percent. However, Wyoming’s economy puts it in an enviable position relative to the U.S. and most neighboring states where employment is flat or down slightly. Job losses in the goods producing sector (Natural Resources & Mining, Construction, and Manufacturing) seem to have moderated in June (-500 jobs or -1.0%) compared to May (-1,000 jobs or -2.1%). Modest job gains were seen throughout the service-providing sector, especially in Retail Trade (300 jobs or 1.0%), Information (200 jobs or 4.9%), Financial Activities (300 jobs or 2.9%), Leisure & Hospitality (300 jobs or 0.9%), and Government (900 jobs or 1.4%).
County unemployment rates were mixed in June. Fremont County posted the highest unemployment rate (5.7%), followed by Lincoln and Uinta counties (both 5.4%). From May to June, the unemployment rate decreased in 13 counties, increased in 9 counties and was unchanged in 1 county. The largest decrease occurred in Teton County, where unemployment fell from 4.4 percent to 2.4 percent. Goshen County experienced the largest increase, with unemployment growing from 3.1 percent to 3.7 percent.
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