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Wyoming Department of Workforce Services

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"Labor Market Information (LMI) is an applied science; it is the systematic collection and analysis of data which describes and predicts the relationship between labor demand and supply." The States' Labor Market Information Review, ICESA, 1995, p. 7.

2022 Wyoming Workforce Annual Report

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Wyoming Labor Force Trends

March 2023 | Volume 60, No. 3

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Wyoming Unemployment Claims Drop to Historic Lows in 2022

Article | Tables and Figures

by: Sherry Wen, Principal Economist


Wyoming saw a substantial drop in Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit recipients and benefit expenses in 2022, as both fell below pre-pandemic levels. The number of benefit recipients dropped to its lowest count since at least 1997, the first year for which comparable data are available.


Wyoming continued to recover from its most recent economic downturn in 2022. Current data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) show that the state's Unemployment Insurance (UI) covered employment increased from prior-year levels during the first three quarters of 2022 (see Figure 1), the most recent data available at the time this article was published. In addition, the number of UI claimants and the total amount of benefits continued to decrease, and both fell below pre-pandemic levels.

This article examines selected UI statistics and provides additional information for a better understanding of Wyoming’s current economy. Weekly, monthly, and annual UI claims data are available at https://doe.state.wy.us/LMI/UI.htm.

UI Benefit Recipients and Exhaustees

A total of 10,597 unemployed workers received UI benefits in Wyoming in 2022, a decrease of nearly half (-48.4%) of the 20,536 recipients in 2021 (see Figure 2). The number of UI benefit recipients in 2022 was below pre-pandemic levels, such as 13,144 in 2019. The number of UI recipients who exhausted their regular benefits also decreased substantially, from 6,686 in 2021 to 1,660 in 2022 (-5,026, or -75.2%). The exhaustion rate (number of benefit exhaustees divided by the total number of recipients) also decreased, from 32.6% to 15.7%. The smaller number of exhaustees and the lower exhaustion rate usually indicates a better economic situation for people to find jobs.

Each of Wyoming’s 23 counties experienced double-digit percentage decreases in UI recipients from 2021 to 2022 (see Table 1). Natrona County had the largest numeric decrease (-2,226, or -61.2%), followed by Laramie (-1,039, or -42.7%) and Campbell (-970, or -60.7%) counties. The number of out-of-state recipients decreased by 1,577, or 44.9%. Out-of-state benefit recipients made up 18.2% of all benefit recipients in 2022, larger than any single county. Wyoming’s most populous counties also had the greatest share of UI claimants (Natrona with 13.3% and Laramie with 13.2%).

At the industry level, construction accounted for nearly one-third of all UI recipients in 2022 (3,305 claimants, or 31.2%; see Table 2), followed by accommodation & food services (1,442, or 13.6%) health care & social assistance (755, or 7.1%), and administrative & waste services (739, or 7.0%). Table 2 also shows that construction had the largest number of out-of-state recipients (760, or 39.3% of the total), followed by accommodation & food services (456, or 23.6%) and arts, entertainment, & recreation (149, or 7.7%).

All industries showed a double-digit percentage decrease in UI recipients from 2021 to 2022, with the exception of finance & insurance (-11, or -5.7%; see Table 3). The greatest over-the-year decreases were found in construction (-1,809, or -35.4%), accommodation & food services (-1,389, or -49.1%), and mining, including oil & gas (-1,345, or -71.1%).

All industries also experienced a lower exhaustion rate in 2022 compared to 2021. The highest exhaustion rates for 2022 were found in utilities (26.3%), wholesale trade (23.4%), and information (23.1%). The lowest exhaustion rates were found in mining and arts, entertainment, & recreation, with 10.6% of benefit recipients exhausting their benefits in each industry.

The average number of weeks claimed remained largely unchanged, from 10.1 in 2021 to 9.9 in 2022. Most industries had slightly different average weeks claimed in 2021 and 2022, with the exception of management of companies & enterprises (7.9 in 2021 and 15.0 in 2022). In general, higher average weeks claimed usually indicate that benefit recipients from a particular industry had a more difficult time finding new employment.

To summarize, the double-digit percentage decrease seen in all counties and most industries, combined with a lower exhaustion rate for all industries, may indicate that Wyoming’s employment situation continued to improve in 2022.

Some trends have been observed in different demographics of Wyoming’s labor market over the years. For example, data consistently show that older workers have higher exhaustion rates (see Figure 3), indicating that older unemployed workers generally have a more difficult time finding re-employment than younger workers. For example, the exhaustion rate for workers ages 25-34 was 11.2%, compared to 20.8% for those ages 55-64 and 29.1% for those ages 65 or older (see Table 4).

Table 4 also shows that individuals with higher wages before they were laid off also had lower UI exhaustion rates. A higher pre-layoff wage and longer-term employment would qualify a claimant for more weeks of UI benefits, with a maximum of 26 weeks. In other words, individuals with more eligible weeks of UI benefits had more time to find re-employment, and were less likely to exhaust their benefits than those with fewer weeks of eligibility.

Statewide UI Benefits Expenses

The Unemployment Insurance division of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services paid a total of $41.2 million in UI benefits in 2022, including $39.4 million from the state UI trust fund and $1.8 million from other UI funds (see Figure 4). Looking just at the state UI trust fund, UI benefit expenses decreased $18.8 million (32.3%) from the $58.2 million in 2021. In addition, the $39.4 million in benefits paid from the state UI trust fund was below pre-pandemic levels and the lowest since 2007.

At the industry level, more than one-third of total benefits were paid to those who worked in construction ($14.3 million, or 34.8%), followed by accommodation & food services ($4.4 million, or 10.6%) and administrative & waste services ($2.7 million, or 6.6%; see Table 5). All industries showed large over-the-year decreases in benefit expenses, with most being cut by at least half compared to 2021. The largest decrease was in construction (-$26.8 million, or -65.2%), followed by mining (-$17.0 million, or -88.9%) and accommodation & food services (-$12.2 million, or -73.6%).

Unemployment insurance benefit wage replacement refers to how much of an individual’s average weekly wages were covered by UI benefits, and is calculated by dividing the average weekly benefit by the average weekly wage. Due to federal CARES Act funding, wage replacement rates were much higher in 2020 and 2021 compared to 2022 (see Figure 5). The average wage replacement rate across all industries was 38.7%, down substantially from 76.5% in 2020 and 78.7% in 2021, and even lower than the 44.9% in 2019 prior to the pandemic (see Table 6).

Historically, higher paying industries had a lower replacement rate, while lower paying industries had a higher rate. In 2022, accommodation & food services had the lowest average weekly wage of $424 and the highest wage replacement rate of 72.2%. Other industries with higher wage replacement rates included arts, entertainment, & recreation (57.2%) and other services, except public administration (48.3%). Industries with higher wages typically had lower wage replacement rates, such as management of companies & enterprises (6.2%), utilities (24.3%), mining (24.8%).

Table 7 shows UI benefit expenses by county for 2021 and 2022. All counties experienced double-digit percentage decreases in UI benefit expenses over the year. The largest decreases were seen in Natrona (-$24.9 million, or -82.5%), Laramie (-$11.8 million, or -68.1), and Campbell (-$11.3 million, or -84.1%). The amount of benefits paid to out-of-state recipients decreased by $20.6 million, or 69.9%.

Unemployed workers in Laramie County collected the largest share of UI benefits in 2022 ($5.6 million, or 13.5% of the total), followed by Natrona ($5.3 million, or 12.8%). Out-of-state UI recipients collected $8.9 million, the largest share of benefits paid.


Wyoming’s UI program saw large decreases in both the number of recipients and benefit expenses from 2021 to 2022, with most industries and counties experiencing double-digit percentage decreases. The data discussed in this article may indicate that Wyoming’s economy continued to recover in 2022 from the state’s most recent economic downturn.