Jobless rate down

Oct 13, 2013 From staff reports

The newest report on unemployment statistics for Fremont County has both positives and negatives, but a two-year trend of overall improvement continued in August.

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services calculated Fremont County's unemployment rate at 5.5 percent for the month. That's down .3 percent from July and a significant improvement over the 6.3 percent registered in August 2012.

Fremont County does have the state's highest unemployment rate, however, although it is now at its lowest point in several years.

The county's civilian labor force, which is the number of residents either working or looking for work, grew from July but fell short in August of the near-record total of the year earlier. The state report put the work force at 19,980 workers, 41 more than counted in July. In August 2012, the labor pool number 20,166, believed to be the highest figure ever recorded for Fremont County.

Fremont County appears to have passed Albany County (Laramie) in work force size. For some years the county had the sixth-largest labor force in the state, but for several months has consistently outpaced Albany County and now seems comfortably established as the fifth-largest pool of workers. Albany County had almost 1,000 fewer available workers in August than Fremont County. Fremont still has a considerable margin to overcome if it hopes to catch the number for county on the work force list, Sweetwater, which has more than 25,000 in its workforce. Laramie County (Cheyenne) and Natrona County (Casper) continue to have far and away the two largest work forces in the state among the 23 counties in the state. Laramie County totaled more than 46,000 workers for the month, Natrona County More than 44,000. The jobless rates in those two counties were 4.4 percent for Laramie and 4.0 percent for Natrona.

The state's smallest work force by far is in the Niobrara County (Lusk) with 1,383 workers. Unemployment in that county was 3.5 percent in August.

Actual employment in Fremont County posted a 101-job gain from July to August. The August job count was 18,877, compared to 18,776 from July. For the year, however, the county showed a job loss. In August 2012, there were 18,891 people at work in Fremont County.

The somewhat smaller workf orce protected the county's unemployment rate, however, and there were 62 fewer people out of work in August compared to July, and the number of unemployed shrank by a healthy 172 over the course of the year. In August, 1103 workers were listed as unemployed, while a year earlier the total was 1,275.

After Fremont County's 5.5 percent jobless rate, the next highest among the state's 23 counties was 4.8 percent in Big Horn County (Lovell), which has only about one fourth as many workers as Fremont County does. Goshen County (Torrington) at 4.6 percent and Lincoln County (Kemmerer) came in at 4.6 percent .

A familiar name led the list of low-unemployment places in Wyoming. Sublette County (Pinedale) had a rate of just 3.0 percent, down .2 from the previous month. Teton County, at the peak of its summer tourist season, had just 3.1 percent unemployment.

The state analysts noted that stable or slightly lower unemployment rates are typical for August. That trend was reflected statewide, where the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Wyoming stayed the same at 4.6 percent from July to August. The state's jobless rate is down from 5.4 percent year ago.

Wyoming continues to have a significantly better employment picture than the nation's. The U.S. unemployment rate was listed at 7.3 percent for August but was continuing its steady improvement. The national rate was 7.7 percent in July and 8.2 percent a year earlier.

The state unemployment figures run a full month behind the national calculations. The national unemployment for September already has been figured, coming in at 6.9 percent.

Fremont County employment

Unemployment rate

August -- 5.5 percent

July -- 5.8 percent

August 2012 -- 6.3 percent

Labor force

August -- 19,980

July -- 19,939

August 2012 -- 20,166

Total employment

August -- 18,877

July -- 18,776

August 2012 -- 18,891

Total unemployment

August -- 1,103

July -- 1,165

August 2012 -- 1,275

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