© Copyright 2003 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning

Wyoming Unemployment Falls Slightly in May
by: David Bullard, Senior Economist

Wyoming nonagricultural employment fell slightly (down 300 jobs or 0.1%) from May 2002 to May 2003. However, Wyoming’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained low (4.0%). The U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 6.0 percent in April to 6.1 percent in May (its highest level in over eight years). The U.S. continued to lose jobs on an over-the-year basis (-361,000 jobs or -0.3%).

From April to May, Wyoming added 7,000 jobs (an increase of 2.9%). However, this over-the-month increase is slightly lower than the average of the four previous years (7,750 jobs), signaling a slowdown in job growth. Not surprisingly, Construction (1,300 jobs), Retail Trade (1,400 jobs), Professional & Business Services (500 jobs), Leisure & Hospitality (2,400 jobs), and Government (700 jobs) all gained jobs. In Construction and Government, however, the job gains were smaller than in previous years.

From May 2002, employment fell by 300 jobs or 0.1 percent. This marks the first time employment has fallen in over-the-year comparison since November 1995. May’s employment decline reflects a continuation of the slow employment growth Wyoming has been seeing since June 2002 when employment growth fell below 1.0 percent. In recent months, employment growth (or decline) has not been significantly different from zero. 

Employment in all three goods-producing industries fell in May. Natural Resources & Mining lost 200 jobs or 1.1 percent, Construction lost 500 jobs or 2.4 percent, and Manufacturing lost 600 jobs or 6.4 percent. Local Government (including public school districts, community colleges, and public hospitals) gained 500 jobs or 1.2 percent. Leisure & Hospitality added 200 jobs or 0.7 percent.

According to information provided by the U.S. Department of Defense for May, a total of 444 military reservists from Wyoming had been called into active duty. In concept, persons on active military duty for the entire survey reference period are not included on employer payrolls. To the extent that Wyoming employers do not replace these reservists with new workers, payroll counts will be lower than normal. Consequently, the over-the-year payroll job decline of 0.1 percent may have been exaggerated.

As expected, unemployment rates in almost all of Wyoming’s 23 counties fell from April to May. The two exceptions were Natrona County where the unemployment rate increased slightly from 4.3 percent to 4.4 percent and Sublette County where the unemployment rate was unchanged at 2.6 percent. Lincoln County posted the highest unemployment rate in May (5.5%). It was followed by Uinta County (5.3%) and Fremont County (5.2%). The lowest unemployment rate was found in Albany County (1.5%).

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