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

Wyoming Unemployment Drops in February and Job Growth Continues
by: David Bullard, Senior Economist

Wyoming's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 3.9 percent in January to 3.6 percent in February. The U.S. unemployment rate also fell in February, dropping from 5.6 percent to 5.5 percent, continuing the decrease which began in January. Wyoming job growth remained at the respectable pace of 2.1 percent. U.S. job growth was negative when compared with February 2001.

Overall, nonagricultural wage and salary employment grew by 300 jobs or 0.1 percent from January to February. However, large job losses were seen in oil & gas extraction (-800 jobs or -6.7% over the month). These job losses were more than offset by the seasonal job gains in Services (800 jobs or 1.4%) and Local Government (800 jobs or 2.0%).

When compared to February 2001, Wyoming gained 4,800 jobs or 2.1 percent. Large over-the-year employment increases were seen in coal mining (600 jobs or 13.6%), oil & gas extraction (700 jobs or 6.7%), and Services (2,000 jobs or 3.7%). Within Services, significant gains occurred in auto & miscellaneous repair services (500 jobs or 16.7%), health services (600 jobs or 5.4%), and private social services (400 jobs or 6.2%).

Manufacturing lost 400 jobs or 3.5 percent when compared with its February 2001 employment level. These job losses appeared throughout the industry, except in printing & publishing, which was unchanged from its year-ago level. Two areas of Retail Trade remained below their February 2001 levels: food stores lost 100 jobs (-2.0%) and department stores lost 200 jobs (-4.3%).

Oil & gas extraction lost 800 jobs from January to February, but still remained 700 jobs above its February 2001 level. Since its employment peak in September 2001, this industry has lost a total of 1,500 jobs or 11.8 percent.

Across Wyoming's counties, unemployment rates were mixed in February. From January to February, unemployment decreased in 11 counties, increased in 9 counties, and was unchanged in 3 counties. Johnson County's unemployment rate fell from 4.0 percent to 3.1 percent and Niobrara County's rate fell from 4.0 to 3.3 percent. Unemployment fell from 5.1 percent to 4.6 percent in Natrona County.


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