Wyoming Energy Struggles Driving Jobless Rate Increase
A Senior Economist with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services says the struggles of Wyoming's energy sector are mostly to blame for the state's February jobless rate of 5.0 percent.
David Bullard notes the jobless rate in Natrona County, where the economy is dominated by the energy sector, increased a whopping 3 percentage points between February of 2015 and last month ((4.2 percent to 7.2 percent).
Two other heavily energy-dependent counties, Campbell (increasing from 3.6 percent to 6.3 percent) and Sweetwater (from 4.5 percent to 6.0 percent), also saw big year-over-year unemployment increases. Overall unemployment in 21 of the state's 23 counties was up last month compared to a year earlier.
That led to an overall unemployment jump of 1.2 percent year-over-year from the he February 2015 rate of 3.8 percent.
The increase was less dramatic between January 2016 and February, going from 4.7 percent to last month's 5.0 percent number, but Bullard says even that increase is ''statistically significant" and trending in the wrong direction.
But at least there was good news in Laramie County where the jobless rate dropped from January of this year to last month (5.0 percent to 4.5 percent). Bullard says that decline was mostly due to normal seasonal trends.
It's also worth noting that while there has been some oilfield activity in Laramie County in recent years, it has an economy that is generally more diverse than that of many Wyoming counties.