Least-populated state gets even less population


Wyoming’s total resident

population contracted to 577,737 in July

2018, according to estimates from the U.S.

Census Bureau. The annual decrease from

July 2017 was 1,197 persons, or 0.2 percent,

which was the third consecutive year of decline.

However, this decrease was a lot less

than the previous year’s loss of 5,356 residents

or 0.9 percent.

Thirteen counties experienced population

declines from July 2017 to July 2018. Sweetwater

County led the state with the largest

numerical loss of 496 residents, while Hot

Springs County suffered the steepest decrease,

-2.8 percent.

Carbon and Washakie counties also experienced

a decline of nearly 2 percent each. Lincoln

was the only county that demonstrated

an increase of close to 1 percent. Most other

counties with moderate increases are located

in the northwest and the southeast areas of

the state where there are minimal energy extraction

operations. Since 2010, the fastest

growing counties were Teton, at 8.4 percent,

Laramie at 7.7 percent and Lincoln at 7.3 percent.

“Employment drives migration change,

particularly for young adults,” said Amy

Bittner, senior economist with State of Wyoming,

Economic Analysis Division. “People

tend to move to areas where jobs are available.

Conversely, people may leave areas where

employment opportunities become limited.”

Even though Wyoming’s economy has been

rebounding since late 2016, the speed of the

recovery was still moderate. Between the second

quarter of 2017 and the second quarter of

2018, about 2,000 or 0.7 percent payroll jobs

were added. Campbell,

Converse, and Sublette counties have

gained the most jobs, but the overall labor

force was still at a lower level than before the

economic downturn. These counties have the

most mineral activities and endured the heaviest

employment losses during the downturn.

In addition, the labor market nationwide,

particularly in neighboring states such as

Colorado, Utah and Idaho, continued to show

strong growth, which drew Wyoming workers

and residents.

However, after six years of decline, the

state’s labor force has finally stabilized or

even ticked up by the end of 2018.

With a current unemployment rate of

below 4 percent, which is among the lowest

rates in 10 years, Wyoming’s job market is

quite tight. As a result, average working hours

in private industries have gradually been increasing

to the level before the economic

downturn, and growth in hourly earnings were

particularly strong – the fastest in many years.

“Wyoming’s current labor market environment

is definitely providing opportunities and

encouragement for people who are looking for

jobs within the state,” Bittner commented.

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