Wyoming Resident Population On the Rise
The Wyoming Economic Analysis Division says Wyoming's population is growing:
Wyoming’s total resident population grew moderately to 581,381 as of July 2022, according to a U.S. Census Bureau estimate.
The annual increase from July 2021 totaled 1,898 persons or 0.3 percent, slightly less than the U.S. growth rate of 0.4 percent.
From July 2021 to July 2022, 16 counties experienced population increases.
Lincoln County led the state with the fastest growth rate (2.4%), followed by Big Horn (1.8%) and Crook (1.8%) counties.
Teton and Niobrara counties suffered the steepest decreases, with both declining 1.4 percent. Natrona and Laramie counties, the only two Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the state, decreased 0.1 percent.
Two factors contribute to changes in population - natural change, which is the difference between births and deaths, and net migration, the difference between people moving into and out of an area.
At the state level, the net migration was 2,494, meaning that 2,494 more people moved into Wyoming than moved out between July 2021 and July 2022.
The natural change, however, was -490 (6,189 births but 6,679 deaths).
“Perhaps it’s the first time in Wyoming’s history that the number of deaths outnumbered the births, according to Wyoming Department of Health records,” commented Dr. Wenlin Liu, Chief Economist with the State of Wyoming, Economic Analysis Division.
Wyoming’s population growth from natural change already declined steadily between 2008 and 2019 as birth rates dropped and Baby Boomers aged with increased mortality.
The natural change was near 4,000 (8,134 births and 4,183 deaths) in 2008, but it dropped below 1,500 (6,568 births and 5,122 deaths) in 2019 (prior to COVID-19).
Since then, the pandemic has further pulled down the number of births, but driven up the number of deaths to around 6,000 annually for the past three years.
In particular, the number of deaths reached the historic level of 6,679 between July 2021 and July 2022, resulting in an unprecedented negative natural change.
Across the state, roughly two-thirds of the counties showed negative natural change (more deaths than births); in contrast, less than one-third of the counties experienced a natural decrease in 2019.
The state experienced nearly six consecutive years of negative net migration (more people left than moved into the state) between 2014 and 2019 due to the energy downturn.
However, the direction of net migration has since reversed. “Energy driven employment opportunity is always a leading factor for Wyoming’s migration trend, but the pandemic specifically played a large role in recent years," said Dr. Liu. “A number of professionals with higher income and telework capabilities chose to relocate to less populated and lower cost areas during the pandemic.”
Over three-fourth of Wyoming’s counties showed positive net migration from 2021 to 2022, led by Park (504), Sheridan (498) and Lincoln (435) counties, similar to the trends between 2020 and 2021. Only four counties experienced negative net migration: Teton (-451), Sweetwater (-249), Carbon (-103), and Niobrara (-19).
“The rebound of the energy industry in mineral producing and serving areas also demonstrated improvement in migration,” Liu continued.
Campbell, Converse, Natrona, and Sublette counties reversed the direction of net migration from negative to positive, and Sweetwater County cut its net out migration by more than half compared to the previous year.