Wyoming’s unemployment rate fell to 5.5% in October, the sixth consecutive month with a decline, figures from the state’s Department of Workforce Services show.
The state’s jobless rate continues to recover from a dramatic spike that coincided with the coronavirus pandemic and the business closures it prompted. The unemployment rate peaked in April when it more than doubled to 9.2%.
Still, the recovery from the one-two punch of the pandemic and an energy downturn isn’t complete. Wyoming’s unemployment rate from October 2019 was 3.7% — nearly two percentage points lower than this October, state figures show.
In fact, all but one of Wyoming’s 23 counties had higher unemployment rates this October than they did a year earlier. Counties whose economies are dependent on the energy sector have taken the biggest hit, the department noted when it released the new jobless figures.
Natrona County, for example, has seen its unemployment rate rise from 3.8% to 7.8% — the highest in the state. Campbell (3.5% to 6.4%) and Converse (2.7% to 5.3%) counties also experienced sizable increases.
Agricultural-based counties fared better. Goshen County’s unemployment rate of 3.6% was unchanged from where it stood a year earlier.
Albany County, home to the University of Wyoming, had the state’s lowest unemployment rate for October at 2.9%.
Even with its declining unemployment rate, Wyoming has not recovered all of the jobs it lost during the pandemic and from the downturn in the coal, natural gas and oil industries. Total nonfarm employment in Wyoming was down 12,900 jobs in October compared to a year earlier.
The nation’s unemployment rate for October stood at 6.9%. Wyoming’s rate was tied for the 17th lowest in the U.S. along with Idaho and Michigan. Nebraska had the nation’s lowest, at 3%. Hawaii (14.3%) had the country’s highest rate.