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

Covered Employment and Wages for Fourth Quarter 1999
by: David Bullard, Senior Economist

U nemployment Insurance (UI) covered employment1 increased by 5,403 jobs or 2.4 percent during the fourth quarter of 1999 compared to fourth quarter 1998.2 Employment grew at a much faster pace during fourth quarter 1999 than in fourth quarter 1998, when employment increased by 2,624 jobs or 1.2 percent. Total payroll increased 6.2 percent and average weekly wage increased by $19 or 3.7 percent. Table 1 shows monthly employment by industry for the fourth quarter 1999.

Employment by Industry

Table 2 shows that employment decreased in four industries during the fourth quarter. The largest decrease occurred in Finance, Insurance, & Real Estate (FIRE) because of a "non-economic code change." A firm previously included in FIRE in 1998 was reclassified into the Services industry in 1999.3 Wholesale Trade employment fell by 145 jobs or 1.9 percent. Employment decreased slightly in Manufacturing, falling by 79 jobs or 0.7 percent. Local Government lost 55 jobs or 0.2 percent.

The Services industry created the largest number of new jobs in the fourth quarter. It added 2,656 jobs for a growth rate of 5.7 percent. Part of this increase was due to the reclassification from FIRE mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Within Services, large job gains were seen in hotels & lodging places, business services, amusement & recreational services, health services and social services industries.

Construction employment grew at a healthy pace during the fourth quarter, adding 1,517 jobs or 9.3 percent. These jobs were located in many areas of the state and helped push up employment in the counties of Campbell, Teton, Laramie, Lincoln and Big Horn.

Retail Trade employment increased by 975 jobs or 2.2 percent. A large part of the growth was concentrated in miscellaneous retail, the industry which includes catalog retailers.

Total Payroll and Average Weekly Wage by Industry

Total payroll increased in all industries except Manufacturing and FIRE. In FIRE, the drop in payroll was associated with the reclassification of an employer into Services. FIRE payroll decreased by 6.9 percent, while employment decreased by 6.3 percent, causing average weekly wage to fall slightly.

In percentage terms, the largest payroll increase was reported in Construction. This industry's payroll increased by $25.9 million or 21.6 percent. Since payroll increased even faster than employment, average weekly wage rose by $64 or 11.3 percent. The increase in wages could be the result of employees working more hours.

The next largest increase in total payroll occurred in Transportation, Communications, & Public Utilities (TCPU), with a gain of $17.6 million or 16.7 percent. A large part of this gain was accounted for by bonuses in the communications industry. These bonuses helped increase average weekly wage by $104 or 14.5 percent.

Employment by Region and County

Table 3 shows that the largest number of new jobs was created in Campbell County, where employment grew by 1,055 or 6.2 percent. It was closely followed by Teton County, which gained 1,052 jobs or 7.9 percent. Wyoming's two metropolitan areas, Natrona County and Laramie County, grew at a more modest pace, adding 639 and 756 jobs, respectively.

In Campbell County, significant employment gains were seen in the oil & gas industry, as well as coal mining and Construction. Teton County's employment gains were found in Construction, business services and amusement & recreational services. In Natrona County, job losses in Local Government were more than offset by gains in Retail Trade, business services and health services. Laramie County saw employment increases in Construction, TCPU and business services.

Employment declined slightly in several counties during the fourth quarter. Uinta County lost the largest number of jobs (-151) and was followed by Sweetwater County (-140). Other counties which lost jobs were Carbon (-66), Converse (-50), Niobrara (-23), Crook (-10) and Albany (-7).

Uinta County's job losses were mainly in the oil & gas industry. In Sweetwater County, job gains in business services and engineering & management services were more than offset by job losses in many industries, especially Construction and nonmetallic minerals.

1 Approximately 85.0-90.0 percent of all workers in Wyoming are covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI). Some exceptions include the self-employed and many agricultural workers.

2 Comparative data for fourth quarter 1999 from neighboring states is not available.

3 Each year during the refiling survey, approximately one-third of the employers covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI) in Wyoming are contacted to confirm that they have been assigned the correct Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code. If it is found that an employer has changed primary business activity, a new SIC code is assigned to reflect that change.

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Valerie A. Davis.