By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming saw a fairly high amount of people moving into the state last year, ranking 11th in the country for moves through one particular company despite the pandemic, according to a recent study.
However, United Van Lines also reported that it saw more than 100 people leaving due to job situations, something unsurprising to the Wyoming Business Council CEO.
According to the moving and relocation company, Wyoming had around 193 families (or people) come into the state, while 140 people/families left. Since 1977, United Van Lines has annually tracked migration patterns on a state-by-state basis.
In total, the company had 333 moves within Wyoming, either inbound or outbound.
The 2020 study is based on household moves handled by United within the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. and ranks states based off the inbound and outbound percentages of total moves in each state.
United classifies states as “high inbound” if 55% or more of the moves are going into a state, “high outbound” if 55% or more moves were coming out of a state or “balanced” if the difference between inbound and outbound is negligible.
Wyoming’s percentages were 58% inbound and 42% outbound.
Some of the states that had the most inbound movers were Idaho, South Carolina and even South Dakota, which Gov. Kristi Noem proudly declared on her Facebook page.
“Pretty cool! South Dakota was 4th in the country for percentage of inbound migration, according to United Van Lines. Folks are moving to South Dakota because they value Freedom and our way of life,” she wrote.
Wyoming came in 11th overall for inbound movers, just barely missing out on the top 10 ranking.
One of the primary reasons people cited for leaving Wyoming was due to their job situation, which was not surprising to Wyoming Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell.
“Based on what we call the perfect storm of a devastating economy has really contributed to that [job loss] so the fact that we were a little bit positive [with inbound movers] was pretty good,” Dorrell told Cowboy State Daily. “I think with so many factors, we were going to see people leave the state, especially in the energy sector.”
He added that the Wyoming coal industry had already been hit hard over the last few years, but the pandemic also caused the oil and gas industries to suffer.
However, as the United data showed, people chose to move to Wyoming due to its opportunities for a lifestyle change and retirement, as well as for health reasons.
This was encouraging to Dorrell and other business officials in the state, as he believes resiliency will be the key to growing Wyoming’s economy and business industries this year.
“I think we need to focus on resilience rather than hunkering down and waiting until the next boom,” he said. “The course for this year is communities to say, ‘We’re not just going to wait around. We’re going to build.'”
Dorrell also believes that the next few years will likely be an interesting time to see certain industries, such as technology, manufacturing and banking, grow throughout the state.
Some of the more traditional Wyoming industries like agriculture and tourism will continue to thrive over time, Dorrell said.
“I think a lot of people in 2020 got reacquainted with Wyoming, and that’s good,” Dorrell said. “I do see Wyoming as a place where people are now realizing what they have, which is access to beautiful spaces, access to the outdoors and a feeling of safety and security.”