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Better jobs picture in county; more at work, fewer looking

May 10, 2013 - Staff

Fremont County got good employment news from the newest data compiled by the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, which has reported its findings for March.

The county's unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent -- and for all the right reasons. Accompanying the jobless rate decrease in March were a larger work force, and larger number of workers on the job, and fewer people out of work.

The state report always trails the calendar by a full month, so the March figures are the newest available.

The 6.9 percent unemployment rate is down from 7.3 percent in February. More importantly, it is down from a year ago as well, when the jobless rate also was 7.3 percent. The state data trackers note that a job uptick is typical from February to March, but the 12-month improvement longer-term strengthening in the job market.

Fremont County's work force grew by 97 in March and now stands near its all-time high at 19,934. That figure is up from March 2012 as well, when the county numbered 19,873 eligible workers. Fremont County has never cracked the 20,000-mark in its work force, but one more increase like March's would do the trick.

Total employment showed solid growth as well, climbing to 18,564, up 171 from February and improving on the March 2012 figure as well by 147 jobs. The state defines "employed" as someone who did any work at all as a paid employee or worked at least 15 hours unpaid in a family business.

There also were fewer unemployed workers in March. The state report counted 1,370 jobless for the month, 74 fewer than February. The March 2012 jobless total was 1,456. In the state's view someone who is "unemployed" has job paying work during the reference week, was available to work and had tried to find work.

At 19,934, Fremont County's work force was the sixth-largest among Wyoming's 23 counties in March, trailing fifth-place Albany County (Laramie) by 1,048 workers and leading seventh-place Sheridan County (Sheridan) by more than 3,000.

Laramie County (Cheyenne) and Natrona County (Casper) have the two largest labor pools by far, with Laramie County at more than 46,000, Natrona at 44,000-plus.

The smallest work force is the 1,299 workers in Niobrara County (Lusk).

Fremont County had the third-highest jobless rate in Wyoming, trailing Lincoln County (Kemmerer), which has 7.9 percent of its workers out of a job, and the 7 percent figure posted by Johnson County (Buffalo). Sheridan County's rate was 6.8 percent.

The lowest unemployment rates in March were found in Sublette County (Pinedale) at 4 percent, Converse County (Douglas) at 4.1 percent, and Niobrara at 4.2 percent. The jobless rates in Niobrara and Sublette Counties were up in March, while Converse County's rate improved by .1 percent.

Statewide, Wyoming registered an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, unchanged from February and down from 5.5 percent a year earlier. The state's 23-county labor pool grew by 638 from February to March and by 903 over the year to stand at 305,556. Total employment declined statewide by about 700 during the month, a figure the state analysts described as insignificant statistically.

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