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,
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
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.