Economy drives thousands from state

Rebounding job market offers hope for Wyoming’s future

GOSHEN COUNTY – Wyoming is experiencing its largest annual population decline since 1989. The least-populated state in the U.S. saw total numbers fall to 579,315 in July 2017, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Wyoming’s Economic Analysis Division.
The annual decrease from July 2016 to July 2017 was 5,595 persons, or 1 percent, which accounts for natural increase and net
“The natural increase (7,513 births less 4,847 deaths) was 2,666, but the estimated net migration (in-migration less out-migration) was about -8,300, which means that approximately 8,300 more persons left Wyoming than moved into the state between July 2016 and July 2017,” Dr. Wenlin Liu, chief economist for the state, explained in a press release. “In contrast, the net migration was about -4,000 between July 2015 and July 2016.”
July 2017 numbers for Goshen County were not yet available on the U.S. Census Bureau’s website, however, data shows a population increase from April 2010 of 13,247 to July 2016 of 13,390.
It should be noted the state also saw an increase during that time period, from 563,767 in April 2010 to 585,501 in July 2016.
Liu said employment drives migration.
“The contraction of Wyoming’s employment started in early 2015,” he said. “Though the mining industry – including oil and gas extraction – in the state gained some ground and added (more than) 1,000 jobs between mid-2016 and mid-2017 due to price stabilization and increases of drilling, nearly all other sectors of the economy still experienced employment decreases, led by construction and government. As a result, the overall payroll employment shrunk by 3,600 or -1.3 percent, the worst performance in the country during the period.”
Liu went on to explain the continued employment decline contributed to the increase in out-
“In addition, the labor market nationwide, particularly in neighboring states such as Colorado (which had the lowest unemployment rate in June 2017 in the U.S.), Utah (the second fastest job growth rate in June 2017), and Idaho (labor market ranked in the top 10), continued to show strong expansion, which attracted a number of Wyoming workers and residents during the period,” Liu said.
The situation is looking up for the state, however. Wyoming’s unemployment rate has declined significantly since the summer of 2016 and is now comparable to the U.S. average. The number of business layoffs is low while the number of hours worked and private-industry wages show growth from last year.
“Wyoming’s current labor market environment should provide encouragement for people who are looking for jobs within the state,” Liu said.
For details, visit the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division website at or the U.S. Census Bureau website at

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