Category archive

Unemployment

More Than $21 Million In Wrongful Unemployment Benefits Paid To Wyoming Workers During COVID

in Unemployment/News
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
21028

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
clair@cowboystatedaily.com

The value of improper payouts of federal unemployment money in Wyoming doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, as did the total amount paid, when access to unemployment payments grew under the CARES Act.

About $12.76 million in federal unemployment funds was paid improperly in Wyoming in fiscal year 2020 and the state logged about $8.28 million in improper payments in 2021, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics.  

The pandemic figure is roughly double the wrongful payments made in the prior two fiscal years, 2018 and 2019, which totaled about $5.7 and $5 million in improper unemployment payments respectively.  

However, the spike in wrongful payments is proportionate to the total distribution, which also nearly doubled during the pandemic years. 

Wyoming distributed a total of about $51 million in fiscal year 2018 and $46 million in 2019 in federal unemployment funds, compared with $91 million and $86 million in 2020 and 2021.  

National Picture Dire 

Nationally, the government waste picture is far more dire than in Wyoming.  

Improper unemployment payouts nationwide skyrocketed from $8 billion (9.2% of the total funded) in fiscal year 2020 to $78.1 billion (18.9% of the year’s total) in 2021, according to Department of Labor statistics.  

The department has attributed improper payouts historically to misreporting among claimants. For example, claimants sometimes return to work and fail to report their earnings.  

But during the pandemic, increased identity theft was a large contributor to the waste, according to an analysis of DOL numbers by the congressional Government Accountability Office (GAO).  

Wyoming’s leading cause of improperly paid unemployment benefits  from 2018-2021 was continued payments to workers who failed to register for referrals to work or reemployment services.   

GAO is a government watchdog that reviews federal expenses and recommends congressional remedies for public funds waste and misuse.  

If unemployment program waste is not addressed, the programs may fail to serve the workers who need them and inaction “may undermine public confidence in the responsible stewardship of government funds,” GAO said in its report.  

More Out There 

The reported billions in misapplied funds is only part of the picture.  

“States have also struggled with incomplete reporting of billions of dollars in identified overpayments,” said the GAO in its report, adding that “total (unemployment insurance) improper payments are not known partly because DOL has not yet reported estimates for certain pandemic (unemployment) programs.” 

Other Western States Fare Better 

At 11.78%, Wyoming had a greater ratio of improper payouts from 2018-2021 than surrounding states Idaho, Utah, Montana and South Dakota, all of which reported less than 10% in misapplied funds for the three-year period.   

However, southern neighbor Colorado failed miserably compared to Wyoming, landing itself in DOL’s severe category at 27% improper payouts.  

Virginia fared the worst, at 38%, and Hawaii did the best, at 5.11% improper payments reported.  

The DOL, however, warned researchers to exercise caution in comparing states, since the many states interpret their varying fraud laws with differing levels of strictness across the nation.  

Claims Shot Up Too 

It was in the final three months of fiscal year 2020 that additional unemployment programs were introduced under a national stimulus package, the CARES Act. Congress approved another unemployment balm, the Continued Assistance to Unemployed Worker Act of 2020, that December.  

Initial and continued unemployment claims in Wyoming skyrocketed in 2020 by about 900%, according to a chart by the state’s Department of Workforce Services.  

Many business sectors struggled in 2020 when, citing concerns over hospital crowding and viral spread, Wyoming imposed gathering limits, business closures, and other restrictions. 

Initial unemployment claims rose from about 1,500 claims monthly in 2019 to 20,000 monthly in mid-2020, but the requests leveled off somewhat at between 4,000 and 6,000 monthly throughout the first half of 2021.  

The claims bottomed out in the 1,000 per-month range last summer when Wyoming withdrew from three different COVID-19 unemployment programs.  

The Department of Workforce Services did not respond by midday Wednesday to a voicemail and an email requesting additional comment.  

Wyoming Bailed Early 

Wyoming participated in pandemic-era unemployment programs, but the state withdrew from them about three months early in June 2021.  

Weekly claims for initial assistance dropped immediately after Wyoming’s withdrawal from pandemic payouts, according to another Workforce Services chart.  

In May 2021, Gov. Mark Gordon announced that Wyoming was withdrawing from the programs early because businesses throughout the state struggled with workforce shortages. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Unemployment Rate Down As People Leave Job Force

in Unemployment/News
13535

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment rate continued to fall in August, but the decline was due more to people leaving the job force than getting jobs, according to a state agency.

The Research and Planning Division, a part of the Department of Workforce Services, said in its monthly unemployment report that Wyoming’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in August fell to 4.9% from the July figure of 5.2%. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate takes annual developments, such as the opening or closing of tourism season, into account.

“Available data suggests that the August decrease in unemployment was related to individuals dropping out of the labor force,” the report said.

The division said Wyoming’s labor force declined by almost 2,000 in August from July to total 294,925.

The August seasonally adjusted rate was below the national average of 5.2% and a significant decline from the figure seen in August 2020, 6.2%.

The state’s unadjusted unemployment rate stood at 3.7% in August, compared to 4.4% in July and 5.9% in August 2020.

The department said the unadjusted unemployment rate in August followed seasonal trends, with Sweetwater County posting the largest decline for unemployment, falling from 5.8% in July to 4.7%.

Natrona County had the state’s highest unemployment rate in August, 5%, while the lowest rate, 2.4% was found in Teton County.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Unemployment Rate Down Sharply in July

in Unemployment/News
12700

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment rate dropped sharply in July as more people took seasonal jobs in the state’s leisure and hospitality and construction industries, according to a state report.

The Research and Planning Division of Wyoming’s Department of Workforce Services, in its monthly unemployment report, said the state’s unemployment rate fell to 4.4% in July from 5.6% the previous month.

“Unemployment often decreases in July as employment grows in leisure and hospitality, construction and other sectors,” the report said.

Every county in the state saw a decline in unemployment rates from June to July, the report said, with the largest drop recorded in Sublette County, where the rate fell from 6.9% to 5.2%, and Uinta County, where the July rate of 4.9% was a decline of more than one percentage point from June’s 6.5%.

Teton County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate in July at 2.8%, while Weston County followed at 3.1%.The state’s unemployment rate in July was sharply lower than it was in July 2020, when it stood at 6.8%. Again, the division reported that every county in Wyoming saw a decline in unemployment rates from one year ago, with the steepest decline reported in Natrona County, from 9.9% in 2020 to 5.8% in July.

“Unemployment rates were unusually high in July 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report said.

When expected seasonal changes in unemployment — such as increased hiring in the hospitality industry — are taken into account, Wyoming’s unemployment rate was set at 5.2% for July, a slight decline from June’s 5.4%, the department said.

“The slight decrease in unemployment was largely due to unemployed individuals dropping out of the labor force,” the release said.

Wyoming’s unadjusted July unemployment rate was significantly lower than the national average of 5.7%, as was its seasonally adjusted rate, where the national average was 5.4%.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Unemployment Remained Relatively Stable In June

in Unemployment/News
12156

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment rate increased slightly from May to June, according to state figures, ending the first half of 2021 at 5.6%.

The state Department of Workforce Services’ Research and Planning Division, in its monthly report on unemployment figures in the state, said 16,825 people were without work in June, an increase of about 800 from May, resulting in a slight increase in the unemployment rate from May’s 5.4%.

However, Wyoming’s 2021 unemployment rates remained well below the figures seen one year ago. In June of 2020, the state’s unemployment rate was 7.3%.

“From June 2020 to June 2021, unemployment rates fell in most counties,” the report said. “The COVID-19 pandemic caused unemployment rates to be unusually high in June 2020, but in 2021, unemployment rates seem to be approaching more typical levels as the economy recovers.”

The report showed that as of June, Weston County had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.8%, followed by Teton County at 3.8%.

The highest unemployment rate was found in Natrona County at 7.4%, the report said, followed by Sweetwater County at 7.1%.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate — which takes into account seasonal developments such as increased tourism and construction jobs — stood at 5.4% in June, the same figure seen in May, but a significant drop from the rate of 7.4% recorded in June 2020.

Wyoming’s unemployment rate remained well below the national average in June of 6.1%. The national seasonally adjusted rate in June was 5.9%.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Sees Seasonal Unemployment Drop In April

in Unemployment/News
10997

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment rate fell slightly in April from March, following annual seasonal trends, according to the state Department of Workforce Services

.The department’s Research and Planning Division, in its regular unemployment report, said unemployment rates fell from from 5.9% in March to 5.6% in April.

“From March to April, unemployment rates followed their normal seasonal pattern and fell in most counties,” the report said. “Unemployment rates often decrease in April as seasonal job gains occur in construction, retail trade and professional and business services.”

According to the report, the numbers meant that 16,467 members of Wyoming’s labor force of 293,373 were looking for jobs. The April figures show an increase of about 800 workers with jobs in April over March.

The state’s lowest unemployment rate in April was 3.9% in Weston County, a decline from 4.2% in March. The highest unemployment rate was in Natrona County at 7.4%, a decline of one-half percentage point from March.

Despite the job gains attributed to the hospitality and recreation industry, the unemployment rate on Teton County increased from 4.2% in March to 7% in April due to the end of the ski season, the report said.

April’s unemployment rate of 5.6% was slightly below the rate seen one year ago of 5.8%, the report said, even though the percentage of people looking for work grew in 16 counties.

The fall in the unemployment rate in Teton County’s to 7% was the largest decline seen over the year. In April 2020, Teton County’s unemployment rate was 12.5%.

Converse County saw the largest increase in its unemployment rate during the year, growing from 4.1% in 2020 to 6.1% in April of this year.

The state’s “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate — a rate derived by accounting for the impacts of normally recurring events such as storms and major holidays — stood at 5.4% in April, a slight increase from 5.3% in March.

However, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained well below the national average of 6.1%, the report said.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Employers Thank Gordon For Cutting Off Federal Covid Unemployment Checks

in Unemployment/News
10890

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

By 7 a.m. Monday, the line of vehicles at Starbucks on Highway 59 in Gillette was already at least a dozen deep. The busy franchise that struggles on an average day to keep customers moving quickly through its drive-through window has been further taxed in recent weeks due to a shortage of workers. 

The lack of available employees has crippled the business to the point where it had to recently cut its hours nearly in half to keep with up with demand. 

“It’s definitely been a problem finding people to work,” barista Cord Smith said Monday morning, noting that the business could use at least 10 more employees

Part of the problem, Smith said, is both competition among other fast food and retail outlets as business continues to pick up across the state and extended unemployment benefits made available because of coronavirus.

Of particular note is a program approved by Congress as part of its coronavirus relief bill that increased unemployment benefits by $300.

The extra money, combined with regular unemployment benefits, often totals  more than some workers make in a week and serves as a disincentive for drawing unemployed residents back to work, Smith and others in the hospitality industry said. 

Relief, however, may soon be coming following Gov. Mark Gordon’s announcement last week that he would be clamping down on these benefits. 

As of June 19, Gordon will eliminate the extra $300 weekly payment and reduce the length of time benefits are available to 26 weeks — less than half of the 52-week period approved by Congress.

In addition, Gordon will also limit eligibility for unemployment benefits to unemployed workers who have paid into the state’s unemployment fund, making self-employed and “gig” workers once again ineligible. 

Gordon is one of 18 Republican governors who see these generous benefits as hampering the state’s ability to rebound economically in the wake of business slowdowns resulting from the COVID pandemic.

 “Wyoming needs workers, our businesses are raring to go,” he said in a statement. “I recognize the challenges facing Wyoming employers, and I believe it’s critical for us to do what we can to encourage more hiring. Federal unemployment programs have provided short-term relief for displaced and vulnerable workers at a tough time but are now hindering the pace of our recovery. People want to work, and work is available. Incentivizing people not to work is just plain un-American.”

He’s hoping the move will help hasten economic recovery and bring down the state’s unemployment rate. 

Currently, Wyoming has the 28th lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 5.3%, according to an April 16 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah and Vermont currently have the lowest unemployment rate at 2.9%, according to the same data, while Hawaii scores highest at 9%.

The two Wyoming industries reporting the most unemployed workers who have filed to continue unemployment benefits are the construction and the leisure and hospitality industries with 1,001 and 797 requests for continued claims as of the week ending May 1, according to data from Wyoming Workforce Services.

Of all the unemployed workers filing for benefits, the largest majority of requests for continued claims are from workers age 25 and below, who make up 41% of those seeking claims, followed by residents age 35 to 44 at 38.7%.

Of the state’s 23 counties, Natrona reported the highest number of unemployment claims from all industries for the week ending May 8 at 489, followed by 329 in Laramie County. Campbell County had the third-highest unemployment claims for the same period at 238, with the fewest claims, 13, filed in Niobrara County.

Many small business owners like Lilly Nilson, co-owner of Stampede Saloon in Chugwater, have been struggling to absorb the worker shortage as business continues to gain steam with the revitalization of the economy.

Friday night, Nilson found herself stuck behind the bar while her husband Lance manned the grill and deep fat fryer and his parents Merwyn and Margie seated guests and helped with dishes. The two waitresses, who had already put in eight-hour shifts on their day jobs, strategized for how the two of them would service the bustling dining room and bar. 

In a town of just under 200 residents, the labor pool in Chugwater is already strained without perks to disincentivize workers, Nilson said. 

“Let’s just say that anyone who wants to work is already working,” she said. 

She is also all for Gordon’s attempt to clamp down on unemployment benefits.  

Likewise, an employee at Western Travel Terminal in Torrington was celebrating the news. 

He declined to give his name because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the company, but he did say that the 24-hour truck stop was definitely struggling to keep up. He estimated that the business needs at least six employees and added no one is coming in to fill out an application. As a result, he and others have been putting in long days to keep up. 

“June 19 can’t come soon enough,” he said as he loaded hotdogs onto the rotisserie early Saturday morning. “I’m ready for a couple days off.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Jobless Rate Steady As Seasonal Jobs Crop Up

in Unemployment/News
10124

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment rate remained steady in March from February as seasonal jobs began to increase around the state.

The Research and Planning Section of the state’s Department of Workforce Services reported Monday the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in March was 5.3%, the same level seen in February and almost a full percentage point below the national average of 6%.

The rate meant that of Wyoming’s labor force of 294,787, 17,370 were seeking jobs.

March’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was slightly higher than the rate for March of 2020 of 5.1%. Wyoming’s unemployment rate increased sharply after March of last year as businesses closed as the result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate takes into account regularly recurring events such as major holidays and the opening and closing of schools to even out the changes in the rate.

The unadjusted unemployment rate for March was 5.9%, a decline from the rate of 6.5% seen in February.

The decline was largely the result of seasonal employment changes, the report said.

“Jobless rates often decrease in March as warmer weather brings seasonal job gains in construction, leisure and hospitality, government and other sectors,” the report said.

The unadjusted unemployment rate fell in every county from February to March, the report said, with Sublette County posting the steepest decline, from 8.9% to 7.7%, followed by Converse County, which saw its rate drop from 7.5% to 6.3%.

The highest unemployment rate for March was found in Natrona County, 7.9%, while Weston County had the lowest rate at 4.1%.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Sees Slight Unemployment Rate Increase For February

in Unemployment/News
9654

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

For the first time in nearly a year, Wyoming has seen an uptick in its unemployment rates.

The state went from 5.1% unemployment in January to 5.3% in February, according to a report from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. Despite this increase, Wyoming’s unemployment rate remains much lower than the U.S. unemployment rate of 6.2%.

The state’s unemployment rate fell for nine straight months, after the state saw a high of 8.5% unemployment.

From January to February, unemployment rates increased in 15 counties, remained unchanged in three counties, and decreased in five counties.

The largest increases occurred in Johnson County (up from 6% to 6.7%) and Weston County (up from 3.9% to 4.6%).

Jobless rates fell slightly in Washakie (down from 5.6% to 5.4%), Sweetwater (down from 7.8% to 7.6%) and Niobrara (down from 5.3% to 5.1%) counties.

The highest unemployment rates in February were found in Natrona County at 8.9%, Sublette County at 8.8%, and Sweetwater County at 7.6%.

The lowest rates were reported in Teton County at 4.4% and Albany and Crook counties, both at 4.5%.

Unemployment rates increased from year-ago levels in 22 of Wyoming’s 23 counties. The largest increases occurred in Converse (up from 3.7% to 7.4%), Natrona (up from 5.2% to 8.9%), Campbell (up from 4.4% to 7.5%), and Uinta (up from 5.0% to 7.1%) counties.

Washakie County’s unemployment rate fell slightly, decreasing from 5.7% to 5.4%.

Total nonfarm employment in Wyoming (not seasonally adjusted and measured by place of work) decreased from 281,800 in February 2020 to 266,400 in February 2021, a decline of 15,400 jobs (-5.5%).

Wyoming’s Unemployment Falls For Ninth Month, Hits 5.1% In January

in Unemployment/News
9217

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment rate fell to 5.1% in January, the ninth month in a row after hitting peaking last spring.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell by one-tenth of a percentage point, from 5.2% in December to 5.1% in January.

Wyoming recently completed a comprehensive annual revision of its unemployment data, which showed that the state’s unemployment rate peaked at 8.5% in May 2020 and has steadily declined since then.

Wyoming’s January unemployment rate of 5.1% was much lower than the U.S. rate of 6.3%.

Most county unemployment rates followed their normal seasonal pattern and increased from December to January. Unemployment rates often rise in January as seasonal job losses are seen in many sectors, including construction, retail trade, transportation & warehousing, leisure and hospitality and government.

The largest jobless rate increases were seen in Sublette (up to 8.3% from 6.7%), Big Horn (up to 6.2% from 4.7%), Niobrara (up to 5.2% from 3.9%), and Hot Springs (up to 5.6% from 4.4%) counties.

From January 2020 to January 2021, unemployment rates rose in nearly every county. The largest increases were seen in areas of the state dominated by the energy sector.

Converse County’s unemployment rate rose from 3.5% to 6.7%, Natrona County’s rate rose from 5.2% to 8.2%, Campbell County’s rate rose from 4.4% to 7% and Sweetwater County’s rate rose from 6.2% to 7.7%.

In contrast to those increases, Big Horn County’s unemployment rate was unchanged from a year earlier, staying at 6.2%.

The lowest unemployment rates in Wyoming were found in Weston County at 3.8%, Crook County at 4.0%, and Teton County at 4.2%. Sublette County reported the highest unemployment rate at 8.3%.

It was followed by Natrona County at 8.2%, Sweetwater County at 7.7%, Campbell County at 7% and Converse County at 6.7%.

Total non-farm employment in Wyoming (not seasonally adjusted and measured by place of work) decreased from 282,400 in January 2020 to 265,900 in January, a decline of 16,500 jobs (-5.8%).

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Unemployment Falls Eighth Month In a Row to 4.8% In December

in Unemployment/News
8537

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment rate fell for the eighth straight month in December, dropping from 5.1% in November to 4.8%.

Most county unemployment rates changed very little from November to December. However, large declines were seen in a few counties.

Teton County’s unemployment rate fell from 5.8% to 3.9% as the winter tourist season ramped up. Jobless rates also fell in Natrona County (down from 7.1% to 6.5%), Converse County (down from 5.1% to 4.5%) and Campbell County (down from 5.8% to 5.2%).

From December 2019 to December 2020, unemployment rates rose in 19 counties, were unchanged in three counties and fell slightly in Hot Springs County (down from 4.0% to 3.9%).

The largest increases occurred in key energy producing areas of the state.

Natrona County’s unemployment rate rose from 4.2% to 6.5% during the year, Campbell County’s rate rose from 3.1% to 5.2%, Converse County’s rate rose from 3.0% to 4.5%, and Sweetwater County’s rate increased from 4.5% to 5.8%.

Jobless rates were unchanged from a year earlier in Fremont County (4.8%), Niobrara County (3.4%), and Platte County (4.1%).

Natrona County had the highest unemployment rate in the state in December at 6.5%. It was followed by Sweetwater County at 5.8% and Sublette County at 5.7%.

The lowest rates were found in Albany and Weston counties, both at 3.0%, and Crook County at 3.1%.

Total nonfarm employment in Wyoming (not seasonally adjusted and measured by place of work) decreased from 285,800 in December 2019 to 273,500 in December 2020, a decline of 12,300 jobs (-4.3%).

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming’s Unemployment Drops Again, Down To 6.1% In September

in Unemployment/News
6944

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment has continued to fall after the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, dropping by one-half percentage point to 6.1% in September.

The state’s unemployment rates were 6.6% in August and 7.1% in July, respectively. The unemployment rate peaked at 9.6% in April and has steadily fallen since then.

The Department of Workforce Services announced these updates rates in a report on Tuesday, adding that unemployment rate in the state was significantly lower than the national average of 7.9%.

“It appears that the state’s economy is recovering and individuals are going back to work,” the report said.

Over the last month, unemployment rates fell in every county, but the largest decreases were seen in Lincoln (down to 4.2% from 5.7%), Campbell (down to 7.2% from 8.2%) and Uinta (down to 6.4% from 7.3%) counties.

Compared to September 2019, unemployment rates were still higher in every county.

The largest increases compared to one year ago were Natrona (up to 8.7% from 3.7%), Sweetwater (up to 7% from 3.4%), Campbell (up to 7.2% from 3.8%), Comverse (up to 5.7% from 2.6%) and Uinta (up to 6.4% from 3.7%) counties.

Jobless rates increased slightly in Albany (up to 3.1% from 3%), Goshen (up to 4% from 3.4%) and Big Horn (up to 4.3% from 3.7%) counties.

Albany County reported the lowest unemployment rate in Wyoming at 3.1%, followed by Niobrara County at 3.4%, and Weston and Crook counties, both at 3.6%.

The highest unemployment rates were in Natrona County at 8.7%, Campbell County at 7.2% and Sweetwater County at 7%. Natrona County has had the highest unemployment rate in the state since the start of the pandemic.

Total nonfarm employment in Wyoming (not seasonally adjusted and measured by place of work) decreased from 295,500 in September 2019 to 278,900 in September 2020, a decline of 16,600 jobs (-5.6%).

Wyoming has consistently ranked among the states whose unemployment rates have recovered the fastest and strongest, according to personal finance website WalletHub.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Continues To Have Strong Unemployment Recovery Rates

in Unemployment/News
6529

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming continues to have strong unemployment recovery rates, according to a recent national ranking.

The state placed ninth nationally for improvements in its unemployment rate seen since the coronavirus pandemic began in mid-March, according to personal finance website WalletHub.

This is one spot higher than the state’s ranking last week. Missouri took the top recovery spot this week, after being ranked 20th last week.

Louisiana had the worst unemployment recovery rates in the country for the last week, dropping from 46th place.

WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three metrics based on changes in unemployment claims.

Wyoming’s unemployment claims from the week of Sept. 17 compared to the same week in 2019 are up by 150.18%, while claims have only increased by 6.95% since the beginning of 2020, the study said.

Red states’ unemployment rates are recovering faster this week, WalletHub found.

This news comes the same week the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services announced that the state’s unemployment rate was at 6.6% in August, down from 7.1% in July.

The state’s jobless rate has decreased in each of the past four months and is currently lower than the United States average rate of 8.4%.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Unemployment Rate Drops To 6.6% In August

in Unemployment/News
6471

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment rate dropped again in August from the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March, the Department of Workforce Services announced this week.

The state’s unemployment rate was at 6.6% in August, down from 7.1% in July. The jobless rate has decreased in each of the past four months and is currently lower than the United States average rate of 8.4%.

Unemployment rates decreased in August in almost all Wyoming counties.

The largest decreases occurred in Washakie County (from 6.3% to 5.2%), Teton County (from 5.7% to 4.6%), Sweetwater County (down from 8.8% to 7.8%) and Sheridan County (down from 5.2% to 4.2%).

Lincoln County saw a slight rise in its rates, going from 5.4% to 5.7% in August. The smallest increases occurred in Albany County (from 3.1% to 3.3%) and Goshen County (from 3.6% to 4.3%).

Compared to August 2019, unemployment rates were up in every county, but the largest increases compared to one year ago were in Natrona County (from 3.7% to 9.4%), Sweetwater County (from 3.4% to 7.8%), Converse County (from 2.4% to 6.4%) and Campbell County (from 4.3% to 8.2%).

Natrona County had the highest unemployment rate in the state in August at 9.4%.

Other high unemployment rates in Wyoming were in Campbell County (8.2%), Sweetwater County (7.8%) and Uinta County (7.3%).

The lowest unemployment rates in Wyoming were seen in Albany County (3.3%) and Weston, Niobrara and Crook counties, all at 3.9%.

Total non-farm employment in Wyoming decreased from 297,000 in August 2019 to 277,200 this year, a decline of 20,700 or 6.9%.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Has Some Of The Fastest Recovering Unemployment Claims In Country

in Unemployment/News/Coronavirus
6374

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming has been ranked in the top 10 states when it comes to the fastest recovering unemployment rates, a recent study declared.

Wyoming placed tenth for improvements in its unemployment rate seen since the coronavirus pandemic began in mid-March, according to personal finance website WalletHub.

Unemployment claims from the week of Sept. 10 compared to the same week last year are up by 150%, with 610 claims submitted last week vs. 244 the same week last year.

However, unemployment rates are down by 7.85% compared to the start of 2020, with 662 claims coming in the week of Jan. 1 compared to last week’s 610.

Unemployment rates are up 823.47% during the period from the beginning of the pandemic to last week when compared to the same period last year.

There were 63,827 unemployment claims in Wyoming between the week of March 16 and Sept. 9 compared to 7,751 between the week of March 18, 2019 and Sept. 9, 2019.

Oregon had the best recoveries when it came to unemployment claims over the last week and since the beginning of the pandemic. Kansas had the worst unemployment recoveries over the past week, but Georgia had the worst recoveries since the beginning of the pandemic.

WalletHub found that blue states’ unemployment claims are recovering faster than red states’ claims.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Ranked 49th Worst States To Work In During Pandemic

in Unemployment/News/Coronavirus
6137

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming has been ranked as one of the worst states to work in during the pandemic, according to a report by Oxfam America.

Wyoming ranked 49th of 52 states and territories (the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were included in the report) in the analysis of Best States to Work In conducted by Oxfam, which describes itself as a “global organization working to end the injustice of poverty.”

Wyoming came in just below Mississippi, but higher than Georgia, Missouri and Alabama, respectively. Washington state, New Jersey and California took the three top spots in the ranking, respectively.

The nonprofit organization analyzed how the states stepped in to protect workers and provide them with access to health care and unemployment support during the period from Feb. 15 to July 1.

Wyoming ranked poorly in all three areas, according to the study.

In the area of protections for workers, which Oxfam said includes protections from being forced to return to work during the pandemic and providing child cared for essential workers, Wyoming scored 16.7 points out of a possible 100 for a 48th place ranking.

Oxfam ranked health care based on how well states stepped in to make sure their citizens had access to health care even if they lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Wyoming, with a score of 40, tied with five other states for 38th place nationally — Kansas, Nevada, Texas, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

For unemployment support, the analysis looked at whether states made it easier for those without jobs to obtain benefits and whether the states took steps to aid the unemployed such as imposing a moratorium on evictions or utility shutoffs.

Wyoming placed 45th nationally with a score of 24.7.

Researchers noted in the report that although the states fluctuate on their policies for unemployment, health care and worker protections, no state came close to having a perfect score.

“All the states — even those with the highest scores — have room for improvement,” the report said.

Oxfam’s recommendations at the end of the report included expanding Medicaid, increasing unemployment payments and improving worker protections.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Unemployment Falls To 7.1% In July

in Unemployment/News/Coronavirus
5937

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment rate fell one-half percentage point from June to July, marking the continuation of a steady decrease since its peak at 9.6% in April.

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services announced Tuesday that the state’s economy is gradually recovering from the large disruptions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The unemployment rate fell from 7.6% in June to 7.1% in July. Unemployment rates fell in all 23 counties over that one-month period.

The largest unemployment rate decreases occurred in Teton County (from 9.4% to 5.7%), Lincoln County (from 6.7% to 5.4%), Carbon County (from 5.8% to 4.7%), Sublette County (from 8.4% to 7.5%) and Laramie County (from 6.7% to 5.8%).

Compared to last year, however, unemployment rates were higher in every county.

The largest increases in unemployment over the last year were seen in Natrona County (up from 3.7% to 10.2%), Sweetwater County (up from 3.9% to 8.8%), Converse County (up from 2.6% to 7%) and Uinta County (up from 3.9% to 8%).

The smallest unemployment increases over the last year were seen in Albany County (up from 3.6% to 3.9%), Goshen County (up from 3.7% to 4.7%) and Crook County (up from 3.4% to 4.4%).

Albany County’s rate of 3.9% was the lowest unemployment rate in Wyoming, followed by Niobrara County at 4.3%, Crook County at 4.4% and Weston County at 4.6%.

The highest unemployment rates in the state were found in Natrona County at 10.2%, Campbell and Sweetwater counties, both at 8.8% and Uinta County at 8%.

Total non-farm employment in Wyoming (not seasonally adjusted and measured by place of work) decreased from 297,200 in July 2019 to 276,700 in July 2020, a decline of 20,500 jobs (6.9%).

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Ranks 47th In Unemployment Recovery; Unemployment Claims Up By 900% In One year

in Unemployment/News/Coronavirus
5733

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment claims have increased by more than 900% in just one year, according to a recent study.

The state ranked 47th out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia when it came to how employment has recovered since the beginning of the coronavirus panademic. These findings came from personal finance website WalletHub.

Wyoming unemployment claims have increased 229.76% since the beginning of the year and 923% since the beginning of the pandemic, compared to March through August 2019.

Wyoming also was also ranked the 50th lowest state for employment recovery in the last week compared to the same time last year.

New Jersey ranked No. 1 for recoveries in the last week, but it was Connecticut that had recovered the most since the start of the pandemic.

George ranked dead last, both in terms of how quickly unemployment claims have recovered in the last week and since the beginning of the pandemic.

The coronavirus has wiped out all of the job gains since the great recession a decade ago. There were around 1 million jobless claims the first week of August.

Blue states’ unemployment claims also seem to be recovering faster than red states.

A University of Minnesota assistant professor attributed much of the employment recovery seen in the nation as stemming from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act approved by Congress.

“The CARES Act is a remarkable piece of legislation. In a matter of days, this deeply divided Senate unanimously passed $2 trillion in spending,” University of Minnesota professor Alan Benson told the website. “The bill itself was really less of a shot and more of a shotgun. Rather than focusing on any one piece of the labor market, the CARES Act provided incentives for businesses to keep people employed, expanded unemployment insurance payments and coverage for those who lost their jobs, and direct stimulus payments to individuals below certain income thresholds. These responses had a double purpose: both as a personal lifeline and as a way to stimulate consumers.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming’s Unemployment Decline A Promising Sign, Says State Agency

in Unemployment/News/Coronavirus
5370

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment rate fell by more than 1 percentage point in June, indicating the state is recovering from the economic hardships created by the coronavirus, a state agency announced Tuesday.

The Research and Planning section of the state Department of Workforce Services said Wyoming’s unemployment rate in June was set at 7.6%, compared to 8.8% in May.

“This decrease in unemployment suggests that Wyoming’s economy continues to recover from the sharp contraction seen in April,” the section’s monthly report on unemployment said. “It appears that the lifting of some COVID-19 restrictions and the reopening of businesses have resulted in many individuals returning to work.”

The figures mean that in June, 22,832 of Wyoming’s workers were without jobs, a decline of 2,500 jobless from May figures. However, the number of unemployed in June was more than double the number seen in June of 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of workers with jobs grew by more than 11,000 during from May to total 278,504.The highest unemployment rate, 11%, was found in Natrona County, while Campbell County’s rate was 9.5% in June.

While the unemployment rate in June was lower than the national average of 11.2%, it was still a significant increase from 2019 figures, the report said.

“From June 2019 to June 2020, unemployment rates rose in every county,” it said.

Teton County’s unemployment rate more than quadrupled during the year, from 2.2% to 9.3%, while Natrona County’s almost tripled, from 4.1% in 2019 to 11% in June.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Enzi: Wyoming Was Target of Nigerian Unemployment Insurance Fraud Ring

in Unemployment/News/Coronavirus
4840

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, is concerned about how President Donald Trump’s administration is handling fraud and abuse by foreign entities regarding unemployment insurance.

“It’s concerning that my state of Wyoming was a target for a foreign fraud ring,” Enzi said during a Finance Committee hearing this week focused on unemployment insurance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, who testified at the hearing, said the virus upended a lot of things, including the ability to foil attempts to defraud the unemployment system.

Scalia said there are many different mechanisms in place to address the “highly-sophisticated criminal enterprises that have engaged in fraud in the system.”

“We are working with our inspector general, we’ve been working with other federal agencies and we’ve been working with the states,” Scalia said. “We will continue to work on it hard. We know it’s real. We know it’s in some cases interfering with the delivery of benefits to people who are entitled to them, so we will stay on it.”

In May, the Secret Service alerted several states that a well-organized Nigerian fraud ring was carrying out a sophisticated attack to fraudulently apply for and receive millions of dollars in unemployment insurance.

Washington state was the main target, but there was evidence of attacks in six other states, including Wyoming.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Unemployment Claims Dip In Last Week of May, Still Ahead Of Last Year

in Unemployment/News/Coronavirus
4775

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

The number of people filing new unemployment claims in Wyoming fell by more than 30% in the last week of May, but remained considerably higher than the number seen one year ago, according to a federal report.

The report from the U.S. Employment and Training Administration also showed that the number of people receiving unemployment benefits in the state increased by more than eight-fold from figures seen one year ago.

The ETA’s regular report on unemployment claims from states showed that 1,926 people submitted new unemployment claims in the week ending May 30, a drop of 874 from the 2,800 to file for claims in the week ending May 23.

However, during the week ending June 1 in 2019, only 389 people filed new claims.For ongoing claims, the ETA reported Wyoming had 17,149 people receiving benefits in the week ending May 23, a drop of 482 — about 2.7% — from the previous week.

But in the same period last year, the number of people receiving benefits as of May 25 was set at 1,842, less than one-eighth of the totals seen this year.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Unemployment Rises To 9.2% In April

in Unemployment/News/Coronavirus
4653

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s unemployment rate more than doubled in April, growing from 3.8% in March to 9.2%, with more than 15,000 workers losing their jobs due largely to the coronavirus pandemic.

The state Department of Workforce Services, in its monthly report on the state’s unemployment rate, said 28,208 members of the state’s workforce of 294,311 were without work in April, compared to 12,754 in March and 9,980 in April of 2019.

“Given the large number of layoffs and other economic disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the increase in unemployment was widely expected,” the report said.

The number of unemployed workers in April was a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 9.2%, well below the national average of 14.7%, which was more than triple the unemployment rate of 4.4% seen in March.

The Department of Workforce Services said the downturn was felt by every major industry in the state.

“Job losses were seen across all areas of the state and in every major industry, with the hardest hit sectors being leisure and hospitality, natural resources and mining and retail trade,” the report said.

Every county saw increases in unemployment, the report said, with Teton County’s rate growing from 4% in March to 18.3%, the highest unemployment rate in the state. The lowest rate was found in Niobrara County at 4.4%, followed by Albany County at 5.4%.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Ranked Best in the Nation for Paying Unemployment

in Unemployment/News/Coronavirus
3996

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming had enough money in its unemployment insurance trust fund at the beginning of the year to pay unemployment benefits for about six years, according to a study by the Tax Foundation.

The Foundation, using statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor, ranked Wyoming’s ability to pay unemployment insurance as the best in the country.

The Tax Foundation stressed that its analysis only took into account jobless claims filed through the week ending April 4.

“Unfortunately, (unemployment insurance) claims during the current crisis are dramatically higher than they were during the Great Recession,” the Tax Foundation analysis said. “Initial and continuing claims for the week ending April 4 stand at 14.38 million — 283% of averages for the three years used to calculate solvency levels.”

Nonetheless, the Foundation said based on the state’s worst three years of unemployment claims, Wyoming had enough in its trust funds to make benefit payments for 321 weeks, putting it well ahead of of second-place Florida, which the study said could make payments for 90 weeks.

In last place in the study was California, which the Foundation said only had enough in reserves to pay benefits for 26 days.

Robin Cooley, director of the state Department of Workforce Services, said during a news conference Wednesday that a national document she had reviewed showed the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund was the third healthiest in the country.

“We are working with another national organization to look at some of the modeling … in order to insure that our trust fund will be healthy through the term of this situation,” she said. “But I feel very comfortable where we started with that fund as healthy as it was.”

According to DWS statistics, the unemployment insurance trust fund ended 2019 with a balance of more than $423 million.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Go to Top