Wyoming Population Down in Largest Decline Since 1989
A state official says from 2016 to 2017, Wyoming saw its largest population decrease since 1989.
According to a news release from the Chief Economist Wenlin Liu, Wyoming's population fell by 5,595 from July 2016 to July 2017. Wyoming's decline rate of one percent was the steepest in the nation during the 12-month period, putting Wyoming among eight states that saw a population decrease.
The natural increase -- 7,513 births less 4,847 deaths -- was 2,666 over that period. However, roughly 8,300 more people left Wyoming than moved into the state.
That's roughly double the net migration figure from the previous year, which was -4,000.
"People tend to move to areas where the economy is vibrant, which is particularly true for Wyoming," Liu said in the news release. He says migration normally follows employment changes, so the population decrease in light of the mineral industry's decline is not surprising.
Although the mining industry, including oil and gas extraction, in Wyoming added over 1,000 jobs from mid-2016 to mid-2017, nearly all other sectors of the state's economy still saw job losses, led by construction and government.
Overall payroll employment during the period shrunk by 3,600 people, or 1.3 percent, which was the worst in the nation.
Meanwhile, in neighboring states such as Idaho, Colorado and Utah, the labor market continued to expand, which drew a number of people away from Wyoming.
Since the summer of 2016, though, Wyoming's unemployment rate has fallen significantly, and is currently similar to the U.S. national average.
Liu also says business layoffs are very low, and both average working hours and hourly earnings in the private sector are higher than in 2016.
"Wyoming's current labor market environment should provide encouragement for people who are looking for jobs within the state," Liu concluded.
The U.S. population was estimated at 325.7 million for 2017, an increase of .7 percent over 2016. Idaho's growth rate of 2.2 percent led the nation, followed by Nevada, Utah and Washington State.
Behind Wyoming's decline rate, which was the largest in the nation, were West Virginia, Illinois, Alaska and Hawaii.