© Copyright 2005 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning


Vol. 42 No. 9    




Wyoming Labor Market in 2004

by: David Bullard, Senior Economist

data prepared by: David Bullard, Senior Economist and Brad Payne, Senior Economist


Wyoming’s economy has been performing well during 2005. Unemployment remains low and employment continues to grow across the economy (see “Employment Growth Continues in July”). Now that Research & Planning (R&P) has finished its annual benchmarking, or revision of 2003 and 2004 data, we have a more complete picture of the employment situation for the past few years. The benchmark process normally results in an adjustment to the employment figures. In recent years, the revision to nonfarm employment estimates has ranged from -0.5% to +1.9%.

Wyoming’s annual average unemployment rate fell from 4.4% in 2003 to 3.9% in 2004 (not a statistically significant decrease). The labor force (the sum of all employed and unemployed individuals) grew at a moderate pace, increasing by 4,448 individuals or 1.6%. The state’s labor force participation rate remained much higher than the U.S. average (71.3% in Wyoming, 66.0% in U.S.) suggesting that a large part of the population is already employed or looking for work and drawing more individuals into the labor force may be difficult. Wyoming’s employment to population ratio rose from 68.2% in 2003 to 68.5% in 2004 and stood well above the U.S. ratio of 62.3%. The number of nonagricultural jobs increased by 5,400 or 2.2% from 2003 to 2004. Laramie County was affected by job losses in some industries and grew at a slower pace than the state (1.5%), while Natrona County enjoyed job gains in Natural Resources & Mining and grew faster than the state (4.7%).

Current Employment Statistics

Wyoming total nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased from an annual average of 250,000 jobs in 2003 to 255,400 jobs in 2004 (see Tables 1 and 2). This represents an increase of 5,400 jobs or 2.2%. Job growth was widespread across many industries. Some of the largest increases occurred in Natural Resources & Mining (including oil & gas—up 1,900 jobs or 10.4%), Government (up 1,100 jobs or 1.7%), Educational & Health Services (up 700 jobs or 3.4%) and Leisure & Hospitality (up 600 jobs or 1.9%). More modest increases were seen in Wholesale Trade (up 400 jobs or 5.7%), Transportation, Warehousing, & Utilities (up 300 jobs or 2.6%), Financial Activities (up 300 jobs or 2.9%), and Manufacturing (up 200 jobs or 2.2%).

Employment fell slightly in Construction (down 300 jobs or -1.5%) and Professional & Business Services (down 200 jobs or -1.3%). Within Professional & Business Services, the administrative & support & waste services industry was affected by layoffs at telemarketing firms.

During 2004, employment in Natrona County grew much faster than the state, increasing by 4.7% (see Tables 3 and 4). Natural Resources & Mining (including oil & gas) was responsible for the largest part of the growth with 700 jobs, or 29.2%. Wholesale Trade and Retail Trade each added 200 jobs and Educational & Health Services gained 300. Professional & Business Services was the only industry in Natrona County with declining employment (down 100 jobs or -3.3%).

Laramie County’s employment grew by 600 jobs, or 1.5%, from 2003 to 2004 (see Tables 5 and 6). Modest job gains were seen in many sectors, including Manufacturing (up 100 jobs or 6.7%); Transportation, Warehousing, & Utilities (up 100 jobs or 4.3%); Educational & Health Services (up 200 jobs or 6.7%); Leisure & Hospitality (up 100 jobs or 2.3%); and Government (up 100 jobs or 0.8%). Employment fell in Information (down 100 jobs or -9.1%) and Professional & Business Services (down 200 jobs or -5.9%).

Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Wyoming’s statewide unemployment rate decreased from 4.4% in 2003 to 3.9% in 2004 and unemployment fell in 22 of the state’s 23 counties (see Table 7). In Laramie County, the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.5%. Some of the smaller counties had the largest decreases in unemployment rates. Carbon County fell from 5.6% in 2003 to 4.6% in 2004, Johnson County fell from 4.3% to 3.4%, and Niobrara County fell from 4.7% to 3.8%.

The labor force grew in all but six Wyoming counties, suggesting that economic growth is occurring throughout much of the state. Counties where the labor force fell from 2003 to 2004 included Carbon, Hot Springs, Lincoln, Niobrara, and Uinta. Weston County’s labor force was unchanged from its 2003 level. 

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