By Kimberly James, The Center Square for Cowboy State Daily
A declining unemployment rate is one of several indicators offering hope that Wyoming’s economy is on the road to pre-pandemic strength.
The recent Wyoming Economic Indicator report, released by the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division, showed that 38% of the 26,000 jobs lost during the worst of the pandemic have been recovered as of September 2021.
Even though the jobless rate is falling, the state is still facing a labor shortage, as is much of the country. The shortage is leaving employers scrambling for ways to attract new workers, including increasing wages.
“With a 4.1% unemployment rate in Wyoming, upward pressure on wages for those employers still attempting to fill available jobs is present,” Tony Gagliardi, Wyoming state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, told The Center Square.
“This upward trend on wages will not only continue but become exacerbated as we get further into the holiday season.”
Gagliardi reported that unemployment rates dropped the most in Sweetwater (5.8% to 4.7%), Niobrara (4% to 2.9%), Converse (4.9% to 3.9%) and Hot Springs (4% to 2.9%) counties, according to Workforce Services.
“The jobless rate continues to fall in Wyoming, this could likely be caused by those who have dropped out of the labor market,” Gagliardi said.
“Economists call the phenomenon slowing the job-market recovery ‘mismatch,’ a disconnect between the jobs open and the people looking for work. Again, likely caused by those leaving the labor force.”
The future looks uncertain as the gap grows between the unemployed seeking work and the unfilled jobs, and Gagliardi said it is difficult to predict what will happen.
“Some national economists state the current situation is harming lower-wage workers the most,” Gagliardi said.