Wyoming Short-Term Industry and Occupational Projections, 2016-2018
by: David Bullard, Senior Economist
Wyoming is expected to lose 2,449 jobs from 2016 to 2018, according to the most recent short-term projections. Job losses are projected to occur in construction, mining (including oil & gas), government, wholesale trade, and retail trade. Job losses are expected to be partially offset by job gains in health care & social assistance and accommodation & food services.
The latest short-term projections from the Research & Planning (R&P) section of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services show a slight decline in employment from second quarter 2016 (2016Q2) to second quarter 2018 (2018Q2). Over that two-year period, employment is projected to fall by 2,449 jobs (-0.9%; see Industry Projections Table).
Some of the key assumptions underlying the short-term industry projections are that energy prices will increase slightly in the near term. Based on the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) February 2017 Short Term Energy Outlook, oil prices are expected to remain in the $50-$60 per barrel range in 2017 and 2018 (see Figure 1). Projected oil prices for 2017-2018 are much lower than 2010 to 2014 levels, but higher than 2016.
Figure 2 illustrates EIA’s forecast for natural gas prices, which are expected to remain in the range of $3.30 to $3.70 per million British Thermal Units (Btu) in 2017 and 2018. Natural gas prices are expected to be much lower than levels from 2003 to 2014, but higher than 2015 and 2016 levels.
Based on the projection of an increase in natural gas prices, only a modest decline in coal production over the forecast period is predicted. The increasing price of natural gas will help make coal more competitive and is expected to slow its long-term decline, which has been related to utilities substituting natural gas and renewables for coal.
Further, R&P’s short-term projections are based on the assumption that Wyoming’s population will stabilize during the forecast period and that U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) will grow at a reasonable pace of 2.3% to 2.4% (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia).
Despite the assumption of modestly rising energy prices, the largest job losses are projected to occur in construction (-1,014 jobs, or -4.6%) and mining (including oil & gas; -953 jobs, or -5.2%). Job losses are also projected in government (-529 jobs, or -1.6%), wholesale trade (-413 jobs, or -4.8%), and retail trade (-408 jobs, or -1.3%) as the state’s economy continues to adjust to the steep declines in energy activity that occurred during 2015 and 2016.
Projected job losses are expected to be partially offset by job gains in health care & social assistance (873 jobs, or 2.7%) and accommodation & food services (557 jobs, or 1.7%). Growth in the U.S. economy is expected to help create jobs in Wyoming’s tourism sector, and an aging population will need more health care services.
The Occupational Projections Table displays the occupational projections at the two- and three-digit Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code level. Employment is projected to fall in construction & extraction occupations (-1,430 jobs, or-4.6%); office & administrative support occupations (-569 jobs, or -1.6%); transportation & material moving occupations (-434 jobs, or -1.8%); installation, maintenance, & repair occupations (-384 jobs, or -2.1%); sales & related occupations (-367 jobs, or -1.4%); and production occupations (-282 jobs, or -2.3%).
Growth is projected in food preparation & serving related occupations (268 jobs, or 1.1%), health care practitioners & technical occupations (259 jobs, or 1.8%), health care support occupations (183 jobs, or 2.5%), personal care & service occupations (166 jobs, or 1.7%), and building & ground cleaning & maintenance occupations (155 jobs, or +1.1%).
Even though the total number of jobs is projected to decline from 2016 to 2018, the need to replace workers who retire, change occupations, or otherwise leave employment will result in a projected 16,150 total job openings over the two–year period. Replacement openings shown in Table 2 are estimated based on the current Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) methodology. However, on October 24, 2017, when the BLS publishes its national employment projections for 2016-2026, it will introduce a new method of estimating occupational separations. For more information on the new methodology, please visit https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_separations.htm. State employment projections for the 2016-2026 period will be developed using the new methodology.
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. (2017, February 10). Survey of Professional Forecasters First Quarter 2017. Retrieved February 10, 2017, from https://www.philadelphiafed.org/research-and-data/real-time-center/survey-of-professional-forecasters/2017/survq117
U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2017, March). Short Term Energy Outlook February 2017. Retrieved February 7, 2017 from http://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/pdf/steo_full.pdf