© Copyright 2007 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning


Vol. 43 No. 10

Covered Employment and Wages for First Quarter 2006: Total Payroll Grows at Almost Twice Its Average Rate

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


In first quarter 2006, total Unemployment Insurance (UI) covered payroll grew by $285 million or 14.9%, almost twice as fast as its five-year average (7.6%; see Table 1). Wyoming’s average weekly wage increased by $57 or 9.4%, also above its five-year average (5.1%) and employment rose rapidly (5.0% in first quarter compared to five-year average growth of 2.3%). Natrona County’s total payroll increased by $47.9 million or 16.7%, with 42.2% of growth coming from the Mining sector (including oil & gas). In Laramie County, where total payroll grew by $27.6 million, the largest contributors were Local Government ($5.2 million), Construction ($4.7 million), and Transportation & Warehousing ($4.1 million).

The covered payroll and employment data in this article are measured by place of work as compared to the labor force estimates (see Wyoming County Unemployment Rates) which are a measure of people by place of residence.

The Figure shows that employment growth has accelerated from 0.1% in first quarter 2003 to 5.0% in first quarter 2006. Growth in total wages increased from 2.4% in fourth quarter 2002 to 11.7% in third quarter 2005, decreased slightly to 10.1% in fourth quarter 2005, then rose again to 14.9% in first quarter 2006 (see Table 2).

Statewide Employment and Wages by Industry

The purpose of this article is to show employment and payroll changes between first quarter 2005 and first quarter 2006. 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, Retail Trade, and Transportation & Warehousing (see Table 3). Mining added 3,688 jobs or 17.4% in first quarter 2006 compared to first quarter 2005. Growth occurred in each area of Mining. Oil & gas extraction gained over 250 jobs, mining (except oil & gas) gained over 650 jobs, and support activities for mining gained almost 2,800 jobs. Coal mining employment has grown dramatically in the past several quarters and accounts for a large part of the growth in the Mining (except oil & gas) sector. Total payroll in Mining increased by $90.2 million and average weekly wage increased by $105 or 8.9%.

Construction employment grew rapidly in first quarter, increasing by 2,763 jobs or 15.8%. Construction of buildings added 500 jobs, heavy & civil engineering construction added over 1,300 jobs, and specialty trade contractors added over 900 jobs. It appears that much of the activity in heavy & civil engineering construction is related to pipelines, refineries, and power plants in the state. Total payroll in the Construction sector rose by $43.2 million or 31.3%.

In first quarter, Retail Trade employment grew by 822 jobs or 2.8%. The largest job gains were in motor vehicle & parts dealers (over 100 jobs); building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers (over 200 jobs); sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores (100 jobs); and general merchandise stores (almost 200 jobs).

Transportation & Warehousing employment increased by 809 jobs (11.0%) and its total payroll increased by $15.5 million (25.3%). Growth was strongest in truck transportation (over 300 jobs), pipeline transportation (over 100 jobs) and warehousing & storage (about 200 jobs).

In first quarter, employment fell in four industries: Federal Government, State Government, social assistance, and Information. It is possible that some of these employment decreases are related to labor shortages rather than layoffs. Employment in Federal Government fell by 232 jobs or 3.3% in first quarter. Modest job losses were seen in many different federal agencies around the state. State Government employment fell by 216 jobs or 1.7% as a result of small job losses at a number of state agencies. Information employment decreased by 33 jobs (0.8%), but total payroll increased by $3.6 million or 11.6%. Job losses were found primarily in publishing and broadcasting. Social assistance employment dropped by 36 jobs (0.7%) in first quarter. Employment rose slightly in child day care services, but fell in other areas of social assistance (individual & family services; community food & housing & emergency & other relief services; and vocational rehabilitation services).

Despite the job losses in social assistance, overall Health Care & Social Assistance employment increased by 212 jobs or 1.1%. Total payroll also rose by $11.5 million or 8.0%. Ambulatory health care services (the subsector which includes offices of physicians) added 133 jobs (or 1.8%), private hospitals added 34 jobs (or 1.2%), and nursing & residential care facilities added 80 jobs (or 1.9%).

Employment and Wages by County

In first quarter, job growth occurred in 20 of Wyoming’s 23 counties (see Table 4) suggesting that the current economic expansion is affecting most areas of the state.

Campbell County gained 2,524 jobs (11.5%) in first quarter. Mining (especially coal mining and oil & gas) employment increased by 1,000 jobs and Construction increased by 600 jobs. Other notable gains occurred in Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, Professional & Technical Services, and Accommodation & Food Services. Total payroll increased by $50.4 million or 22.4%.

Sweetwater County added 1,573 jobs or 7.5% in first quarter. Growth was seen in many sectors, but was strongest in Mining (including oil & gas), Construction, Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, Transportation & Warehousing, and Other Services. Average weekly wage increased by $76 or 10.0%.

Teton County gained 907 jobs or 5.8% and its total payroll increased by $16.9 million or 13.4%. The largest job gains were in Construction (over 200 jobs) and Accommodation & Food Services (over 300 jobs), but growth was seen in many sectors.

Employment increased by 744 jobs or 9.0% in Uinta County during first quarter. Total payroll also grew by $12.9 million or 20.4%. The largest job gains occurred in Mining (including oil & gas; about 100 jobs), Construction (about 350 jobs), Manufacturing (over 50 jobs), Retail Trade (over 50 jobs), and Information (over 50 jobs).

Sublette County was by far the fastest growing county in the state. It added 715 jobs (23.0%) and total payroll increased by $13.4 million or 50.5%. Job growth was seen in nearly every sector, but was strongest in Mining (including oil & gas; almost 300 jobs), and Construction (almost 250 jobs).

Employment fell slightly in three counties: Albany, Niobrara, and Weston. In Albany County employment decreased by 25 jobs or 0.2%, but total payroll still increased ($3.3 million or 3.2%). Minor job losses occurred in Government, Retail Trade, Information, Professional & Technical Services, and Administrative & Waste Services. Employment increased in Construction, Manufacturing, and Accommodation & Food Services.

Employment fell by 31 jobs or 4.1% in Niobrara County. However, the average weekly wage increased by $50 or 12.0%. Job losses occurred in Local Government, Health Care & Social Assistance, and Accommodation & Food Services.

In Weston County employment decreased by 4 jobs or 0.2% as modest job losses in Mining and Retail Trade were mostly offset by gains in Construction, Local Government, and Health Care & Social Assistance. Total payroll increased by $1.6 million or 11.5%.

Table 5 shows that employment in Natrona County increased by 1,649 jobs or 4.7%. Total payroll rose by $47.9 million or 16.7%. Mining (including oil & gas) was the fastest growing sector (20.7%), created the largest number of new jobs (686) and was the largest contributor to the increase in total payroll. Construction, Manufacturing, Wholesale Trade, and Retail Trade also showed large job gains in first quarter.

Employment in Laramie County grew by 1,358 jobs or 3.5% in first quarter (see Table 6). The largest job gains were in Construction (340 jobs or 13.9%), Retail Trade (231 jobs or 4.4%) and Transportation & Warehousing (225 jobs or 13.9%). Total payroll increased by $27.6 million or 9.0% primarily because of growth in Local Government (including public schools & hospitals), Construction, and Transportation & Warehousing. The decrease in total payroll in Accommodation & Food Services is related to a large bonus paid in first quarter 2005 that was not repeated in 2006.

In summary, employment growth accelerated to 5.0% in first quarter 2006 and total payroll increased by 14.9%. Construction and Mining (including oil & gas) were the fastest growing sectors and created the largest numbers of new jobs.

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