© Copyright 2000 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning

A New Perspective of Wyoming's Labor Market Through Wage Records
by: Norman Baron, Economist

"Wage Records provides additional information suggesting the structure or nature of employment in the state is changing."

Wyoming Wage Records 1992-1998: A Baseline Study, Research & Planningís (R&P) newest publication, represents the culmination of several years of data collection, research and analysis and contains extensive information characterizing Wyomingís labor market. This article discusses two areas in which Wage Records has expanded our knowledge of the labor market, tracking the duration of an individualís quarterly employment and classifying all workers by their level of attachment to their respective employers and the labor market as a whole.

Between 1993 and 1998, Current Employment Statistics (CES) employment grew from 210,000 to 227,800, an 8.5 percent increase.1 The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program reported an increase of 7.6 percent for the same period, growing from an employment level of 228,158 to 245,607. Also, the unemployment rate fell from 5.5 percent in 1993 to 4.8 percent in 1998.2 The analysis of Wage Records reveals an 8.5 percent increase between 1993 and 1998 in the number of individuals working during the year (growth in employment) from 271,622 to 294,636. While total employment is up from 1993 to 1998 according to standard indices, the opportunity to find work in all four quarters of the year has declined slightly as a share of all jobs. Wage Records provides additional information suggesting the structure or nature of employment in the state is changing.

R&P uses Wage Records information to determine the number of quarters individuals work during the year. Figure 1 shows that persons who worked four quarters in 1993 (55.7%) dropped three percent by 1998 (52.7%). This decrease occurs despite an increase of 2.6 percent in the number of individuals working all four quarters. The growth in the number of individuals working one and three quarters has outpaced the growth in the number of individuals working two and four quarters, explaining the decrease between 1993 and 1998 in the proportion of persons with work in all four quarters.

Table 1 shows the following six major industries employ a majority of their workers in all four quarters of the year:

The other four major industries (Retail Trade, Services, Construction and Agriculture) employed 45.8 percent or less of their employees all four quarters. This finding reflects the seasonal nature of these industries and temporary jobs. The exact number of seasonal and temporary jobs is unknown. Table 1 also shows that five of the major industries (Government, Services, Retail Trade, Construction and Mining) display a shift in duration of employment from two or four quarters to one or three quarters. Agriculture and Manufacturing show a shift from working one or two quarters to working three or four quarters. The other three industries (FIRE, Wholesale Trade and TCPU) indicate a shift from working four quarters to working three or fewer quarters. This shifting is changing the opportunity structure of the Wyoming labor market. An individualís chance of obtaining her/his desired level of employment depends not only on the year but the industry in which s/he is looking for work.

Wage Records gives us the ability to develop a classification based on a personís attachment to the labor market and an employer. Table 2 examines these attachments by assigning one of the six categories used in the Wyoming Wage Record Classification System3 to each individual. Table 2 shows that a majority of individuals working in certain industries (Government, Mining, TCPU, Manufacturing, FIRE and Wholesale Trade) fit into the Steady Worker Same Employer (SWSE) category. The other industries (Agriculture, Services, Retail Trade and Construction) have 37.8 percent or fewer workers that fit into the SWSE category. Seven of the ten industries display a move away from the SWSE category, while the other three (Manufacturing, Construction and Agriculture) display a move toward it. Of the seven that are shifting away from the SWSE category, all show gains in two of the other categories (Steady Worker Different Employer and One Quarter Worker).

Table 2 and Figure 2 show an overall trend away from two of the categories (SWSE and Two Quarter Worker) and toward the other four. The largest negative shift was 2.8 percent away from the SWSE category, while the largest positive shift was 1.5 percent toward the One Quarter Worker category.

A comparison of Table 1 and Table 2 shows a difference between the total number of individuals working one or two quarters of the year and individuals listed as One or Two Quarter Workers according to the Wyoming Wage Record Classification System. This difference is a result of classifying 731 individuals working one quarter as Multiple Job Holders because they worked for three or more employers during one quarter.4 Another 3,216 individuals working two quarters were classified as Multiple Job Holders because they were working two jobs in two consecutive quarters. In addition, there were 677 individuals working two quarters who were classified as Job Changers (see Table 3).

Wyoming Wage Records 1992-1998: A Baseline Study contains many more valuable tables of information that reach beyond the scope of this article. If this type of information would be useful to you, contact R&P to obtain a copy of this publication.

1 Current Employment Statistics (CES) / Nonagricultural Wage and Salary Employment: The CES program produces estimates of jobs worked, hours and earnings in selected industries from a sample survey of establishments operating in Wyoming.

2 Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS): The LAUS program produces estimates of the unemployment rate and the number of employed and unemployed.

3 Brett Judd, "The Wyoming Wage Record Classification System," Wyoming Labor Force Trends, March 1998 and/or Appendix C of Wyoming Wage Records 1992-1998: A Baseline Study.

4 Research & Planning evaluates an individualís wage record against criteria for inclusion in one of six categories of attachment to the labor market. The categories are prioritized, preventing an individual from being assigned to more than one category.


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