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Monday, March 16, 2020

State Employment in January: Wyoming

Let these numbers be a lesson for next year's legislative session here in Wyoming...

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This is the first in a series of articles on state employment numbers for January 2020. The fabulous Bureau of Labor Statistics has, namely, released its state-level employment numbers for January 2020. Today, a quick review of the numbers for Wyoming. 

It is a depressing read: things have gone from bad to worse since December.

Let us start with the big picture. Figure 1 reports the annual change in total private-sector employment, reported monthly, since January 2018. Note the sharp swing for the worse once the Revenue Committee passed the corporate income tax in August:

Figure 1
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The decline stretches across almost the entire private sector. Five out of 13 industries (splitting Education and Health into two) show any growth in employment, with only two growing by more than one percent. The rest are downsizing:

Table 1: Private-sector employment change by industry
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Jan 2020
Transportation, warehousing, utilities2.76%
Health Care1.97%
Financial Activities0.91%
Leisure, Hospitality0.88%
Professional, business services0.56%
Local government0.43%
Manufacturing0.00%
Wholesale trade0.00%
State government-0.69%
Construction-0.99%
Other services-1.25%
Retail trade-2.46%
Information-2.94%
Education services-3.23%
Minerals-3.32%

If Wyoming had maintained in January the same year-to-year increase in private employment as we had in August, there would have been more than 4,600 extra employees in the private sector. To see the significance in this, imagine if all of those 4,600 left Wyoming and, on average, brought one spouse and one child with them.

It is not just jobs that are vanishing. Paychecks are also dwindling. In December, it was "only" jobs and weekly hours that were in decline; in January this year, the hourly wage is added to that list:

Figure 2
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

This is not a good picture for our state. Fortunately, the corporate income tax died on the doorsteps of the state Capitol, so we can probably expect better employment numbers in the second quarter of this year. However, if the legislative leadership brings back the corporate income tax one more time, the decline we have seen now will continue. 

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