Published June 2017
Wyoming is the least populated state in the nation with an estimated 586,107 people, according to 2015 U.S. Census Bureau estimates. The median age in Wyoming in 2015 was 36.9. Wyoming’s population is aging due to the large number of individuals ages 55 and older, but also due to migration patterns that take younger individuals out of state for higher education or employment opportunities.
In 2011/2012 there were 30,222 in-migrants and 26,936 out-migrants, leaving a net in-migration of 3,286. During 2014/2015 there were 18,277 in-migrants and 18,079 out-migrants, leaving a net in-migration of 198 people.
A shortage of nurses, specifically those trained in geriatric medicine, is projected within the next 10 years.
Key finding: At mid-decade Wyoming’s population is decreasing and aging.
Wyoming’s health care industry has an older workforce. When the aging health care workers retire, possibly having greater health care needs themselves, the need for more health care workers in Wyoming grows.
Less than half of Wyoming’s postsecondary education students who graduated with a degree in health care in 2006/07 remained working in Wyoming eight years after graduation. The migration of postsecondary education graduates creates an even greater replacement need for future graduates going into the health care workforce.
Key finding: Young workers from Wyoming tend to leave to work in other states.
A cohort of certified nursing assistants (CNA) from 2010 was researched to identify their education and experience in the labor market by 2015.
Of all CNAs certified in Wyoming in 2010, 57.8% no longer held a certificate or license from any licensing board in Wyoming in 2015. By 2015, only 30.7% of CNAs from 2010 still held a CNA certificate as their highest certificate or license. An additional 8.6% were licensed as registered nurses (RNs) by 2015, and another 1.3% became licensed as an LPN or vocational nurse.
Key finding: Fewer than half of all individuals with CNA licensing in Wyoming were still working in a licensed health care occupation in the state five years later.
Among all licensed health care occupations, the greatest increase in the number of persons working from third quarter 2010 (2010Q3) to third quarter 2015 (2015Q3) was seen in RNs (an increase of 726 people, or 14.8%). The greatest decrease was seen in CNAs (a decrease of 174 people, or -4.0%).
Health care needs are met differently in rural and urban areas in Wyoming. In 2015Q3, RNs made up a greater proportion of all licensed health care occupations in urban areas, while CNAs made up a greater proportion in rural areas.
In some instances, individuals working in licensed health care occupations in Wyoming may work more hours in urban areas than those in rural areas. For example, RNs in urban areas worked 512 hours per quarter-with 520 hours equaling a 40-hour week across an entire calendar quarter-on average in 2015Q3, compared to 474 hours for RNs in rural areas.
Key finding: RNs make up a greater proportion of the health care workforce in urban areas, while CNAs account for a greater proportion in rural areas.
Current Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) staffing pattern data collected at the national, state, and sub-state region level show differing degrees of need and surplus for several licensed health care occupations in Wyoming.
For example, in 2015, the national rate for RNs was 91.1 for every 10,000 individuals in the population. In the Casper metropolitan statistical area (MSA), the rate was 119.3 for every 10,000 individuals in the population. However, this apparent surplus may be due to the fact that Casper is a regional destination for health care needs in Wyoming, and serves individuals from other counties seeking health care.
Key finding: Larger areas, such as Natrona County, may appear overstaffed with certain licensed health care occupations. In reality, this perceived surplus may actually be due Natrona County’s presence as a regional destination for health care.
Wyoming’s health care & social assistance industry demonstrated the second highest rate of injury incidence (1.4%, or a rate of 1.4 injuries for every 100 workers) of all industries in the state from 2010 to 2015, second only to manufacturing (1.6%).
Nurses tended to have relatively high injury incidence rates, with CNAs topping the list at an incidence rate of 2.8%. This rate was more than three times greater than the overall rate of 0.9% across all industries and occupations.
Key finding: Labor supply for nursing assistants (CNAs), licensed practical and vocational nurses, respiratory therapists, and registered nurses (RNs) could be enhanced by workplace safety intervention.