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County unemployment rate shows strong improvement

May 12, 2019 By Steve Peck, Publisher

Fremont County's newest unemployment picture shows marked improvement over both the previous month and the previous year.

New data from the research and planning section of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services calculates the county's unemployment rate for March at 4.7 percent. That's down 0.4 percent from February and a sizable 1.2 percent from March 2018.

This is the latest data available from state analysts.

In summary, the new report shows a smaller work force in Fremont County than a year ago but significantly more jobs as well. That equates not only to a statistical drop in the unemployment rate but an unimpeachable improvement of the overall job market also.

The county's labor force for March stood at 18,836 workers, 73 more than February's figure. It still lags 138 behind the March 2018 count of 18,974 workers. Employment - those residents of Fremont County working jobs for salary or wages -- stood at 17,959 in March, up by 159 from February's total.

In perhaps the most significant statistic of the entire report, the 17,959 employed workers in Fremont County stands at 105 more than the figure from 12 months earlier.

It's common, especially during times of recession, for the calculated unemployment rate to fall primarily because large numbers of workers have given up seeking employment and have exhausted their government unemployment benefits. That is not the case this time around, when the county registers 105 more jobs despite the smaller workforce.

The total number of unemployed workers in Fremont County also improved considerably, down 86 from February's total to stand at 877 jobless in March. That figure is 243 fewer than the 1,120 workers listed as unemployed 12 months earlier.

Fremont County's 18,836-person labor force remains sixth-largest in the state, the position it has occupied for more than a year. Fremont County trails fifth-place Albany County (Laramie) by more than 2,500 workers, and leads No. 7 Sheridan County by more than 3,000.

Laramie County (Cheyenne) continues to have the state's largest labor force by far at 48,261, nearly 9,000 more than second-place Natrona County (Casper) at 39,527. Both those counties saw labor force increases over the previous 12 months.

Converse County, booming again as the energy industry shows signs of recovery, has a jobless rate of just 3 percent in and around Douglas. The workforce there grew by about 300 over last year, and that county created nearly 400 new jobs. Its total workforce is 7,683, less than half Fremont County's.

Employment rates rose in 10 counties during March and fell in nine others. Fremont County's 0.4 percent improvement was tied for the best in Wyoming with Park County (Cody) and Carbon County (Rawlins).

The highest unemployment rates in the state's 23 counties were Washakie County (Worland) at 4.9 percent, Park County at 4.8 percent and Fremont County at 4.7 percent, but all were considerably lower than a year ago.

The lowest jobless rate in March was the 2.2 percent found in Teton County, beneficiary of the near-record-setting snowfall that fueled a strong winter ski season toward out-of-state tourists requiring sizable hospitality industry employment. Next were Niobrara County, the state's smallest both by population and labor force, and Albany County, both at 2.9 percent. Niobrara County (Lusk) -- has a work force of just 1213.

Statewide, Wyoming recorded a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, slightly better than the U.S. rate of 3.9 percent -- both of which are among the lowest in half a century. Wyoming's labor force stands about 500 fewer than it did a year earlier, while actual job growth numbered more than 1,500 since March 2018.

A year ago Wyoming's unemployment rate was 4.4 percent.

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2020-05-27

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