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Report: Wyoming Lost 16K Jobs Over One-Year Period

in News/wyoming economy
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming lost more than 16,000 jobs in 2020, according to a new state Department of Workforce Services report, due largely to the coronavirus pandemic.

The department’s quarterly report on the state’s economic indicators showed that from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the fourth quarter of 2020, Wyoming lost 16,273 jobs, a 5.9% loss, and total payroll fell by $58.4 million, a 1.6% loss.

The largest job losses occurred in mining, including oil and gas, which saw a decrease of 5,923 jobs, the leisure and and hospitality industry, which lost 3,159 jobs, and construction, which had a loss of 2,786 jobs.

Other losses were seen in local government employment, including public schools, colleges and hospitals, which saw a loss of 1,257 jobs, wholesale trade, where 1,036 jobs were lost, professional and business services, which saw a loss of 501 jobs, and manufacturing, which had a loss of 489 jobs.

However, the state’s retail trade employment rose by 627 jobs in the same period.

Job losses were seen in 17 of Wyoming’s 23 counties.

Natrona County lost 3,382 jobs (an 8.5% decrease) and its total payroll fell by $53.5 million, a 9.7% decrease, with the largest declines coming in mining, wholesale trade, construction, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing and other services.

Campbell County’s employment fell by 2,533 jobs, a 10% decrease, and its total payroll decreased by $54.6 million, a 13.5% decrease. Mining in the county lost more than 1,300 jobs and smaller job losses were seen in wholesale trade, local government, construction, professional and business services, transportation and warehousing and leisure and hospitality.

Converse County lost 2,015 jobs, a 26.1% decrease, and its total payroll fell by $39.4 million, a 32% decrease. The county’s construction sector accounted for approximately half of the job losses. County employment also fell in mining, professional and business services and transportation and warehousing.

Employment in Sweetwater County fell by 2,006 jobs, a 9.1% decline, and its total payroll decreased by $34.6 million or 10.2%. Sizeable job losses occurred in mining, construction, transportation & warehousing, local government, leisure & hospitality, and wholesale trade.

Laramie County lost 1,455 jobs, a 3.1% decrease, but its total payroll grew by $21.6 million, a 3.6% increase. Large job losses were seen in leisure & hospitality, mining (including oil & gas), local government, manufacturing, information, and construction.

Teton County’s employment fell by 1,034 jobs, a 5.2% decrease, but its total payroll increased by $79.7 million, or 27.7%. Its leisure & hospitality industry lost more than 900 jobs and retail trade lost more than 150 jobs. However, gains were seen in construction, financial activities and professional and business services.

Lincoln County added 103 jobs, a 1.6% increase, and its total payroll increased by $9.8 million, or 12%.

Job losses continued into the first quarter of 2021, according to preliminary data, as employment fell from the first quarter of 2020 by approximately 14,500 jobs, a 5.4% decrease, and total payroll fell by $197.6 million, a 5.9% decrease.

Large job losses were seen in mining, approximately 5,500 jobs, leisure and hospitality (approximately 2,800 jobs), construction (approximately 2,500 jobs), local government (including public schools, colleges, & hospitals; approximately 1,300 jobs), and wholesale trade (approximately 1,000 jobs).

However, continuing its trend from 2020, retail trade added more than 700 jobs.

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Wyoming Ranked 49th Worst States To Work In During Pandemic

in Unemployment/News/Coronavirus
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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.

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

in Unemployment/News/Coronavirus
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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.

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Help Wanted: Low unemployment means hiring difficulties in Cheyenne

in News/Business
1477

While Cheyenne’s low unemployment rate is good news for its economy, it means hard times for the city’s employers who are having trouble finding workers.

Cheyenne’s unemployment rate as of the end of April was 3.1 percent, compared to Wyoming’s statewide average of 3.6 percent.

“Help Wanted” signs can be found throughout Cheyenne, a sign of the resulting labor shortage that employers must face when trying to hire workers.

Businesses will have to be more creative than usual in luring staff members, said Stephanie Meisner, vice president of the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce.

“It causes us as employers, as well as businesses within the community, to have to think more creatively as to how to recruit, as well as retain employees and to be a little bit more competitive with one another in terms of workforce,” she said.

Astrid, the owner of the Plains Hotel, agreed the low unemployment rate makes hiring more difficult.

“It’s very severe for employers right now,” she said.

Katy Rinne, director of marketing and business development for one of Cheyenne’s newest restaurants, The Metropolitan, said her property is almost fully staffed. She attributed the achievement to the restaurant’s training for new workers.

“We’re happy to work with them, we’re happy to show them the way that we want to offer service and really train them to be great employees and to have a great work experience for them and for our customer,” she said.

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