Wyoming unemployment lowest since 2008

2014-03-31T09:33:00Z 2014-03-31T17:47:08Z Wyoming unemployment lowest since 2008By CHRISTINE PETERSON Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette

Wyoming’s unemployment rate fell in February to its lowest level since December 2008, according to new numbers from the research and planning section of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment dropped from 4.3 percent in January to 4.2 percent in February, said David Bullard, senior economist for the research and planning section. The national rate is 6.5 percent.

“If job growth keeps up, certainly we expect unemployment to trend lower,” Bullard said. “But if we go back to 2006 and 2007, it was quite a bit lower than it is today. There’s room for the unemployment rate to go lower.”

Job gains in the third quarter of 2013 – the most recent figures available -- were in accommodations and food services, retail trade, transportation and warehousing and real estate, rental and leasing. Oil and gas job losses have leveled off, but numbers of coal mining jobs continue to decline, he said.

Wyoming gained 3,000 non-farm jobs between February 2013 and February 2014, a 1.1 percent increase.

Rural counties such as Lincoln, Johnson and Fremont had the highest unemployment rates at 6.9 percent, 6.5 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively. Job growth tends to increase in rural areas again in the summer, Bullard said.

Counties with large amounts of energy development had the lowest unemployment rates, such as Campbell at 3.7 percent, Niobrara at 3.8 percent and Albany at 3.9 percent.

New quarterly job growth numbers will be released in May, Bullard said.

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