Wyoming in Top 10 for Decrease in Unemployment Claims
According to a report by WalletHub, new unemployment claims in Wyoming were 46% lower than in the previous week and 20.7% lower than in the same week last year, the fourth biggest decrease in the U.S.
Based on data from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, there were 1,762 new unemployment claims at the beginning of October, an increase from the previous month which saw 924 new claims, and the highest since April, which had 1,931 new claims.
Those were all far below the height of new claims the state saw at the start of the pandemic, which had 20,485 in April 2020, a 1,100.8% increase from the previous year and the most since at least 2007.
For continuing claims, there were 5,746 claims by the beginning of October, just above the 5,138 claims made at the beginning of September which was the lowest amount since at least 2007.
Continuing unemployment claims in Wyoming have been mostly decreasing since their peak of 95,769 at the beginning of the pandemic in May 2020, only seeing an increase up to 13,299 at the beginning of 2022 after dropping down to 6,782 in October 2021.
David Bullard, Senior Economist with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services said there are a number of reasons for the low number of claims.
"First of all, the labor market is pretty tight and employers aren't laying off very many people," Bullard said. "They're probably trying to hold onto the people that they have. Also, we have fewer people working than sometime in the past, so even if the rate of claims was level, we'd have fewer claims just because we have a little bit fewer people working...the claims really represent people being laid off and you're limited to 26 weeks. So if people leave the state and they're working in other places or whatever or if they've retired, they're neither working or on claims. We have a little bit fewer people working, plus with the tightness of the labor market, fewer people being laid off. Or the other side of the tightness is, even if they are laid off, to the extent that they can go immediately into another job, they won't need to file a claim for unemployment."
Part of the decrease in claims is due to Governor Mark Gordon ending the increased unemployment benefits in May 2021, which was earlier than when the federal money ran out on Labor Day and may or may not have impacted unemployment.
Bullard said he doesn't know the exact impact that ending increased benefits early may have had on employment numbers in Wyoming.
"I don't have an answer for you, but that is a good question," Bullar said. "There wasn't anything large or obvious, not a large impact...We've had very large numbers of job openings and unemployment has been fairly low. Not record low but still fairly low. And so the labor market's been tight for a while now."