© Copyright 2002 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning

Employment Growth Rebounds in January
by: David Bullard, Senior Economist

Wyoming job growth increased from 1.9 percent in December 2001 to 2.4 percent in January 2002, and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 4.2 percent to 3.8 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate also fell in January, dropping from 5.8 percent to 5.6 percent, its first decrease in several months.

From December to January, Wyoming employment fell by 4,500 jobs (1.8%). This over-the-month seasonal decline in employment is seen in most years as retailers lay off extra Christmas help, construction work slows, and Local Government sheds jobs. In 2001, approximately 5,400 jobs were lost, and in 1999, about 6,000 jobs were lost. This year’s decrease is smaller than previous years’, signaling an improvement in Wyoming’s employment situation.

When compared with January 2001, growth was seen across Wyoming’s economy. An estimated 5,500 nonagricultural wage and salary jobs were gained for a growth rate of 2.4 percent. Mining (including oil & gas extraction) continued to dominate Wyoming’s job growth, with a gain of 2,200 jobs (12.5%). Coal mining grew by 600 jobs (13.6%). Services gained 1,600 jobs (3.0%), including 400 jobs in auto & miscellaneous repair, 500 jobs in health services, and 400 jobs in private social services. Despite losing jobs when compared with December, Government employment increased by 1,200 jobs (2.0%) when compared with January 2001. Three-quarters of the Government increase was in Local Government, which includes school districts, community colleges, and county hospitals.

Manufacturing employment remained 200 jobs (1.8%) below its year-ago level. Employment fell by 200 jobs in Transportation, Communications, & Public Utilities. Within Retail Trade, department stores fell by 200 jobs and food stores fell by 200 jobs. However, these job losses were more than offset by gains in other Retail Trade industries including building materials & garden supplies, auto dealers & service stations, and eating & drinking places.

As expected, most county unemployment rates increased from December to January. Washakie County and Goshen County had large increases in unemployment because of layoffs in Manufacturing. Washakie County’s unemployment rate climbed from 3.9 percent in December to 6.5 percent in January while Goshen County’s rate increased from 3.0 percent to 5.0 percent. Johnson County, Niobrara County, and Teton County all had lower unemployment rates in January than in December.

Lincoln County had the highest unemployment rate in January (7.7%), followed by Fremont County (7.6%) and Carbon County (6.9%). Teton County had the lowest unemployment rate (2.9%), but it was up significantly from January 2001 (1.5%).


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