© Copyright 1999 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning

Wyoming Employment 1994 - 1998: A Tale of Two Series
by: David Bullard, Economist, Gregg Detweiler, Senior Economist and Gayle C. Edlin, Economist

Research & Planning, in cooperation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produces two employment series. The Current Employment Statistics (CES) or payroll series uses a monthly sample-based survey of Wyoming employers to estimate nonagricultural wage and salary employment each month. The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) series is based on the Current Population Survey (CPS)--a monthly household survey of Wyoming residents and other data.

The question that many people first ask when comparing these two series is, "Why are the numbers so different if both of them are about employment?" The simple answer is, LAUS and CES are indeed both measures of employment, but LAUS is a count of employed individuals and CES is a count of jobs (i.e., multiple jobholding will affect CES but not LAUS). These and other differences between the series have been the subject of several articles(1) where they are explained in detail.

So why is it useful to have these two employment series? Each series has its merits, and each provides a unique snapshot which, when compared and contrasted to the other, helps to produce a more complete and detailed picture of Wyoming’s economy.

The Figure shows the annual average employment levels for these two series from 1994 to 1998. Perhaps the most noticeable difference between the two series is the drop in LAUS employment from 1996 to 1997. During the period shown in the Figure, CES employment has been growing steadily. The Table shows the annual levels and the percent change over the previous year for each series. During the 1994-1998 period, LAUS employment grew the fastest (3.0%) in 1998, while CES grew at 1.5 percent in both 1997 and 1998. The slowest growth occurred at different times in each series. As already noted, the LAUS series fell in 1997 (-2.0%). The CES series grew by 0.8 percent in 1996, its slowest growth for the 1994 - 1998 time period.

Data are currently available for the first three months of 1999. The March estimates show LAUS employment at 245,432 (2.2% over March 1998). The CES estimates for March 1999 show employment at 221,100 (0.9% ahead of March 1998).

1 Mike Evans, "Understanding the Different Employment Measures," Wyoming Labor Force Trends, April 1998, pp. 1-4; David Bullard, "Employment Series Differences: Explanation and Interpretation," Wyoming Labor Force Trends, June 1998, p. 12.

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These pages designed by Gayle C. Edlin.
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