Wyoming Unemployment Down, But So Is Labor Force
A Senior State Economist says that while Wyoming's unemployment rate continues to decline, a closer look at the numbers shows there may not be much reason to celebrate.
David Bullard notes the state jobless rate fell from 4.3 percent to 4.1 percent between April of 2017 and last month. A year-over-year comparison shows a drop in unemployment of 1.6 percent (from 5.7 percent) between May of 2016 and last month.
But a closer look at the numbers also shows the state workforce has dropped by 3,001 people over the past year. Bullard says that shows that a sizable part of the drop in unemployment is being caused by people dropping out of the workforce, either because they moved out of state or they gave up looking for a job.
Bullard says Laramie County, with it's more diverse economy, is bucking the trend of a shrinking workforce. The jobless rate in Laramie County has declined from 4.1 percent in May of 2016 to 3.5 percent last month.
Bullard says the size of the Laramie County workforce has actually grown over the past year, in contrast to what has been seen in most of the state. But the jobless rate in the state's most populous county did increase by .01 percent last month, up from an April figure of 3.5 percent.
Natrona County's unemployment rate held steady between April and May of this year at 5.4 percent. That left Natrona County with the highest unemployment rate in the state last month, just slightly above Fremont County ( 5.3 percent in May 2017) and Campbell County (5.1 percent).
Albany County's unemployment rate increased slightly over that same period, from 2.6 percent to 2.8 percent.