By Joshua Wood, Cowboy State Daily
Employers in Wyoming have added thousands of jobs over the past year. The hospitality and leisure sector lead the way, according to a recent report.
Those numbers come as Wyoming’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June dropped to 3.1% compared to 4.6% last year.
The leisure and hospitality industry reported strong job increases, according to the newest Wyoming MACRO Report from the state economic analysis division.
An additional 2,000 jobs were added from June 2021 to June 2022 in the industry. This made for a nearly 6% increase in employment. Other industries reported similar growth. The mining sector reported an increase of 800 jobs and the construction industry reported 1,600 additional jobs.
All three sectors were part of positive employment growth for the state. In May, state-wide employment increased by 5,400 jobs, or nearly 2%, compared to last year..
Leisure and hospitality is defined as a supersector by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This supersector combines the arts, entertainment and recreation sector and the accommodation and restaurant sector.
While the numbers are promising, the hospital industry itself is still struggling with staffing issues.
“Staffing continues to be a challenge for the hospitality industry across Wyoming,” said Chris Brown, executive director of the Wyoming Hospitality and Travel Coalition. “It is a labor-intensive industry that generally requires a lot of employees to operate in a full capacity.”
According to information from Federal Reserve Economic Data, Wyoming’s leisure and hospitality industry has seen steady growth over the past 10 years. From June 2012 to June 2022, employment increased from about 23,000 to 37,000 jobs.
There was an exception in early 2020 during the height of the pandemic. Employment in the industry dropped from nearly 38,000 in January 2020 to 25,500 in April 2020.
Since then, growth has continued for the industry. As of June, approximately 37,600 people were employed in Wyoming’s leisure and hospitality businesses.
In 2021, direct travel-related employment totaled 31,000 jobs according to the Wyoming Office of Tourism’s Economic Impact of Travel report released earlier this year. Direct travel-generated employment is the total number of full-time and part-time jobs directly attributable to travel spending.
The accommodations and food services sector grew by 1,230, or 7.8%, jobs in 2021. Arts, entertainment and recreation employment grew 15.4% in 2021, gaining 1,060 jobs.
Brown said while those employment numbers are increasing, it’s been a “mixed bag” for industry members in the Cowboy State.
“In speaking with owners and general managers across the state, some have had more success and are closer to adequate staffing levels while others are still struggling to attract and retain enough staff,” said Brown. “We are encouraged to hear from some that pressure from lack of staffing is easing a little.”
The Wyoming Hospitality and Travel Coalition is hopeful the trend of added jobs will continue and further help Wyoming’s tourism industry to grow.
“Wyoming’s second largest industry offers so much opportunity for growth and flexibility,” said Brown. “Our hope is that this trend continues and businesses are able to attract additional employees to serve the traveling public.”