Unemployment crept higher in December

Feb 6, 2012 Staff

Continuing a wintertime trend, there wasn't much movement in Fremont County's unemployment picture as the new year began.

The county's unemployment rate inched slightly higher in December to 6.9 percent, up from 6.7 the month before.

That's still an improvement from the 7.3 percent logged a year earlier. December's statistics are the newest available from the Wyoming Department of Work-force Services, which follows employment data statewide.

December's figures showed the expected shrinkage in the county's civilian labor force, which dropped below 19,000 again after rising through the fall.

The pool of available workers came in at 18,864, down from 19,173 in November and 24 fewer than December 2010.

State analysts notes that some of the decrease could be due to a later drop than usual in agriculture and construction employment in Dec-ember after an unseasonably warm fall extended the duration of seasonal ag jobs past their normal completion.

Total employment fell by by 321 in December to 17,567, although that figure was 51 more than the 17,416 on the job in Fremont County 12 a year earlier.

"As colder weather sets in, employment tends to decrease in construction, professional and business services, and other sectors," a statement from the Department of Workforce Services reads.

Total unemployment in the county grew by just 12 to stand at 1,297, up from 1,285 in November but still 74 fewer than December 2010. Analysts noted that the reason the total unemployment increase isn't closer to the total employment decrease probably is because many of the temporarily jobless left Wyoming for the winter, perhaps to work in construction or hospitality jobs in warmer climates for a few months.

Fremont County's labor pool of 18,864 occupied its familiar spot as the sixth-largest among Wyoming's 23 counties, trailing NO. 1 Laramie County (Cheyenne), Natrona County (Casper), Campbell County (Gillette), Sweetwater County (Rock Springs) and Albany County (Laramie).

Laramie and Albany counties each has a work force of more than 41,000. No other county has as many as 27,000. Fremont County trails Albany County by about 1,400 workers.

At 6.9 percent, Fremont County's unemployment rate stood as the state's third-highest behind Teton County (Jackson) at 8.4 percent and Lincoln County (Kemmerer) at 8.0 percent. Park County (Cody) tied Fremont's jobless rate at 6.9 percent.

The lowest jobless rate in Wyoming was Sublette County (Pinedale) at just 3.2 percent. It has a work force of about 7,000.

Wyoming's statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged from November to December at 5.8. percent, down from 6.4 percent in December 2010.

As usual, the state's jobless rate outperforms the nation's. The national rate was 8.9 percent in December but fell to 8.3 percent in January.

Unemployment figures in Wyoming reflect those either receiving or eligible to receive unemployment compensation from the Department of Workforce Services through their county job service centers.

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