trends_flag Research and Planning r_and_p Department of Workforce Services State of Wyoming

Fewer Workers Commuted During Economic Downturn

When Wyoming's economy expands, more people commute to work. When the economy contracts, commuting declines. The economic downturn in 2009 and 2010 resulted in fewer workers commuting within counties and across county lines.

In 2011, Research & Planning (R&P) looked at how commuter flows and the flow of wages in mining, construction, health care & social assistance, and leisure & hospitality were affected by be the economic expansion in 2007 and 2008 and the subsequent economic downturn in 2009 and 2010. Specifically, R&P looked at those labor market components in Campbell, Laramie, Natrona, and Sweetwater counties.

Figure 1

All industries except health care & social assistance had peak employment in 2008, followed by declines the next two years (see Figure 1). Health care employment grew by an average 3.3% per year, from 29,928 in 2007 to 33,062 in 2010. Over that same period, construction employment declined by 15.8%, and mining employment dropped by 8.2%.

Figure 2

In Wyoming's construction industry, Campbell County saw the largest reduction in worker inflow, a 20.0% decline from 2009 to 2010 (see Figure 2). The two most populous counties – Laramie and Natrona – saw reductions of 7.7% and 11.7%, respectively. In addition, average wages for inflowing workers in Campbell County in the construction industry declined by 1.2%, suggesting that both higher and lower salaried employees were affected.

In the construction industry, the inflow of commuters to Campbell County was greater than the intra-county flow of workers for all four years, indicating a dependence on imported labor to support that industry.

Figure 3

Intra-county flow in construction in Laramie County declined each of the four years, and peaked in 2008 in Campbell, Natrona, and Sweetwater counties. Substantial increases in wages were observed from 2007 to 2008 in Campbell (10.5%), Laramie (9.6%), and Natrona (18.0%) counties, but a decline of 6.0% in intra-county commuting wages was seen in Natrona County from 2009 to 2010, along with declines in Campbell (-4.0%) and Sweetwater (-3.6%) counties (see Figure 3).

The latest commuting patterns for Wyoming can be found at