Jess Hoven has lived and loved in Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Los Angeles and Casper.
Casper has proven the most challenging place to find a good woman. At 28, Hoven is single and says he’s lonely. But the gender imbalance makes it hard to date.
Hoven is one of an estimated 294,281 men in a state of 282,131 women, according to U.S. Census population estimates in 2012. At a rate of 104.3 males for every 100 females, Wyoming’s male-to-female ratio is second
highest in the United States, after Alaska, which has 108.9 men for every 100 women.
The gender imbalance can cause men to feel frustrated in love, according to single men who spoke with the Star-Tribune. The gender imbalance even has implications for small business owners who peddle products to women. They always have to keep an eye on the men’s market to be competitive, said Liz Parks, a market researcher with the Wyoming Entrepreneur Market Research Center, which provides research and analysis to state businesses in partnership with the University of Wyoming.
Thank the economy for Wyoming’s masculinity: Jobs in coal, trona, uranium, oil and gas attract those with XY chromosomes, said Wenlin Liu, an economist with the Wyoming Division of Economic Analysis.
While it’s raining men in Wyoming, it’s the opposite nationally. There are 96.9 men for every 100 women, Liu said.
That’s because men die four to five years before women, on average. Men also have a higher suicide rate and a higher mortality rate because of more dangerous work and activities many enjoy.
“Boys are more adventurous, crazy driving and all that,” Liu said.
Since so many men flock to Wyoming for energy jobs, Liu said, it’s not surprising that the largest men-to-women ratios are in energy-producing counties, such as Carbon, Sublette and Sweetwater, which have ratios of 121.5, 118.5 and 109.1 respectively.
“For the state, overall, it has to do with the job,” Liu said. “That’s why typically North Dakota and Alaska” have high ratios.
Nearly 9 percent of Wyomingites work in minerals extraction, the largest percentage of all the states, Liu said.
For the most part, men hold the minerals jobs. For instance, in the third quarter of 2012, 24,700 men worked in minerals extraction. Only 3,400 women worked in it, Liu said.
Hoven, who moved to Casper four years ago to be closer to family, remains hopeful he will find someone, perhaps at the grocery store or library.
“The girls have more say than the guys,” he said. “They can walk away and on to the next guy.”
Casper psychiatrist Steen Goddik said he receives complaints from men about dating. He encourages patients to join organizations of people of like-minded interests. But Casper is a small city and there aren’t many, he said.
Men who work long shifts for extended periods of time struggle with dating more than others. If they’re on a rig outside of Casper for 14 days, they don’t have a lot of time to meet women when they’re home because they’re busy doing laundry and running errands. They often meet women at bars, and a few days later, they’re back on the rig, Goddik said.
“It begins to fade out fast,” he said. “For relationships that work, you end up seeing each other a lot in the beginning.”
Crave is the new store at Casper’s Wolcott Galleria, which caters to shoppers looking for, as the classic nursery rhyme says, “sugar and spice and everything nice.” There are coffees and teas. Floral tea cups. Le Creuset tea pots. Milk frothers. In the back, they sell sodas from Japan and old-fashioned candies such as Zotz.
Aside from the occasional male gourmand, most of the customers are female, said Eileen Lemm, a sales associate at the store. Yet the store’s owners, Merry Jane and Charles Walsh, know the market and haven’t forgotten the guys.
In a side room with dim lights and a sign that says, “What happens in the man cave, stays in the man cave” is a humidor with more than a dozen boxes of cigars — including Julius Caesars, Diamond Crown and Brick House.
It is bad business to cater to one gender and forget the other, said Parks, of the Wyoming Entrepreneur Market Research Center, who counsels business owners to sell products and services for both.
Even a woman’s dress store can accommodate the male shopper if sales associates know how to communicate with a man who is shopping for his wife or mother.
“If you exclude one [gender], then you lose half your market,” she said.