With Some Jobs Returning to Wyoming, Mining Still Lags Behind
In a press release, the Wyoming Department of Administration & Information announced their quarterly economic report on the state of Wyoming's economy, notably employment, revenues, and energy.
According to the report, Wyoming continues see increases in employment compared to the lows of 2020, except for the mining sector which is struggling to recover.
The state saw an increase of 9,700 jobs this May, much it from the leisure and hospitality sector, which saw 9,200 more jobs in May 2021, however mining and construction both saw job losses at 1,300 and 1,600 respectively in May compared to the same time last year.
Casper in particular saw an increase of 1,500 jobs year over year in May 2021, with no changes in mining and construction, similar to Cheyanne which saw 2,200 more jobs compared to May 2020.
Dylan Bainer, principal economist with the Wyoming Department of Administration & Information, said with oil at $70 a barrel and natural gas at $3.22 per million Btu, jobs in mining should bounce back in the coming months.
Another good sign for the industry is the increase of oil rigs in operation compared to last year, around 10 in June compared to one during much of 2020, which Bainer said is why he's optimistic about jobs returning in that sector.
In general, unemployment has been steadily declining in Wyoming from over 8% at the middle of last year to 5.4% by May of this year.
Bainer said he isn't sure what exactly has contributed to the decrease besides businesses returning to normal, especially for leisure and hospitality, however he did say it's also possible rescinding enhanced unemployment benefits by governor Mark Gordon played a role.
"I think both definitely had an affect, that would help lead to more jobs coming back. I certainly think that the enhanced unemployment thing, would that incentivize people to get back out into the workforce in terms of which one is more of a leading factor, it's hard to say just by looking at the numbers."
Because Bainer is only focused on looking at the numbers, he did not have any suggestions on what the state government could do to increase the employment numbers.