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


Vol. 41 No. 10   


Covered Employment and Wages for First Quarter 2004: Employment Growth Continues at a Healthy Pace

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

Unemployment Insurance (UI) covered employment increased by 7,091 jobs or 3.1 percent during first quarter 2004 compared to first quarter 2003. First quarter’s employment increase is well above the five-year average growth rate of 2.1 percent (see Table 1). Total payroll increased by $120.5 million or 7.2 percent, slightly higher than its five-year average (6.7%). Average weekly wage increased by $22 or 4.0 percent, just below its five-year average (4.5%). Additionally, employment increased in 21 of Wyoming’s 23 counties during first quarter. 

Table 2 shows that employment grew faster in first quarter 2004 than at any time during 2002 and 2003. The Figure shows that payroll growth (7.2% during first quarter) continues to increase from the trough in fourth quarter 2002. 

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 it is found that 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.

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

Table 3 shows that the largest job gains occurred in Mining, State Government, Accommodation & Food Services, Health Care & Social Assistance, and Construction. 

Mining (including oil & gas) grew by 1,792 jobs or 10.4 percent in first quarter. The vast majority of job gains in Mining were found in support activities for mining. These employment increases are likely related to natural gas drilling activity around the state.

State government employment increased by 1,527 jobs or 12.1 percent. However, practically all this gain (1,500 jobs) was the result of a new payroll system in a unit of state government. This new payroll system was also responsible for $2 million of the increase in state government payroll.

Employment in Accommodation & Food Services grew by 671 jobs or 2.6 percent during first quarter. Job gains were about evenly split between accommodation and food services.

Health Care & Social Assistance added 614 jobs or 3.3 percent during first quarter. This industry was also affected by noneconomic code changes. 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). Construction employment increased by 337 jobs or 2.0 percent. Most of the gains were found in heavy & civil engineering construction, rather than construction of buildings or specialty trade contractors.

Although Table 3 shows that employment decreased by 467 jobs (or 7.2%) in Administrative & Waste Services, this is mostly due to various large employers’ code changes from administrative & support services (NAICS 561) to various subsectors (including Health Care & Social Assistance).

Employment in Management of Companies & Enterprises was affected by noneconomic code changes of 166 employees from Mining and Construction.

Local Government employment grew by 190 jobs or 0.5 percent in first quarter. 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.

Statewide total payroll increased by $120 million (7.2%). As in previous quarters, Mining was by far the largest contributor to this gain, increasing by $34.5 million or 13.9 percent. Management of Companies & Enterprises increased its total payroll by $12.7 million or 195.3 percent. This included $4.6 million paid to one CEO.

Employment and Wages by County

As shown in Table 4, employment increased in every region and 21 of Wyoming’s 23 counties during first 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 end result will be higher-quality data, initially some of the employment increases at the county level may be the result of more accurate reporting, rather than actual increases in the number of jobs.

Albany County added 1,820 jobs or 12.4 percent. However, about 1,500 of these jobs were related to a new payroll system put in place during the first quarter. 

Sweetwater County continued to grow in first quarter, adding 893 jobs or 4.8 percent. The largest job gains were in Mining (including oil & gas), Construction, Retail Trade, and Accommodation & Food Services.

Campbell County gained 635 jobs or 3.2 percent during first quarter. Mining (including oil & gas) grew by about 200 jobs. Retail Trade and Local Government employment also increased.

Employment in Park County grew by 339 jobs or 3.1 percent. Modest job gains were seen in many different industries, including Mining, Utilities, Construction, Manufacturing, Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, and Health Care & Social Assistance.

Goshen County employment fell by 44 jobs or 1.1 percent. There were small job losses across many industries, including Manufacturing, Administrative & Waste Services, Health Care & Social Assistance, and Local Government.

Table 5 shows that Natrona County continued to grow, adding 1,479 jobs or 4.6 percent during first quarter. Similar to the situation at the statewide level, the largest job gains occurred in Mining (including oil & gas). Some of the 611 jobs gained in Mining were the result of a large employer (previously classified as statewide) providing a more detailed breakout. Construction was also affected by a large employer breaking out employment at the county level.

Management of Companies & Enterprises grew by 52 jobs (380.5%) because of a new breakout of a large company from heavy & civil engineering construction (NAICS 237) in Lincoln County to management of companies & enterprises (NAICS 551) in Natrona County. This industry was also affected by an increase of higher-paid employees, and executive pay over $700,000.

Employment fell in two industries in Natrona County. Administrative & Waste Services lost 214 jobs or 13.1 percent, mostly as the result of several employer reclassifications and breakouts from administrative & support services (NAICS 561) to other subsectors and counties.

Laramie County grew by 869 jobs or 2.3 percent (see Table 6). Accommodation & Food Services gained 165 jobs or 4.3 percent. Health Care & Social Assistance continued to grow, adding 174 jobs or 6.1 percent. Construction employment increased by 123 jobs or 5.6 percent. Manufacturing added 126 jobs or 8.8 percent, although part of this increase was related to an employer code change from Wholesale Trade (NAICS 425) to chemical manufacturing (NAICS 325). The job losses in Retail Trade (-51 jobs or -1.0%) were primarily the result of several code changes from food & beverage stores (NAICS 445) to food services & drinking places (NAICS 722) and merchant wholesalers, nondurable goods (NAICS 424).

In summary, Wyoming’s economy grew at a healthy pace during first quarter. The Mining sector (including oil & gas) experienced the strongest employment growth, but some growth was seen in almost every industry sector, and in 21 of Wyoming’s 23 counties.


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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