employment

Gunwerks

The Wyoming Business Council has recommended full funding to expand the Gunwerks firearms manufacturing facility in Cody. The project is expected to bring in up to 66 new jobs.

Screenshot from the report with a flow chart of carbon technology
American Jobs Project

A new report from the American Jobs Project outlines how Wyoming could become an economic leader in carbon technology. That includes developing activated carbon, graphene – a type of metal – carbon foam, and nanotubes. Those are materials that go into home insulations, concrete, and transmission lines.

Job listings posted on Plenty's website including an IT position in Laramie
Plenty

After just one year with a Wyoming facility, Plenty cut 23 of only 55 positions at the site Tuesday. Plenty is an indoor farming company based out of San Francisco. In June 2017, the company purchased the Laramie-based start-up Bright Agrotech.

Today’s jobs report that puts unemployment at a low of 3.9%  is not necessarily good news for companies competing for potential workers, especially in rural areas, where it’s already challenging to attract labor. Businesses and governments are coming up with creative solutions.

Breakdown of direct, indirect, and induced jobs per 100 new employees for wind, coal, and slaughterhouses
Patrick Manning, Matthew Halama, Wyoming Department of Workforce Services / Wyoming Department of Workforce Services

A new report outlining the status of Wyoming's economy and workforce shows slaughterhouses could create more indirect and induced jobs than wind and coal state lines employees.

Utah and Idaho were the leading states for employment growth over the past year, according to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also in the top five were Nevada and Colorado.

Cody Laboratories Inc.

Just a few months ago Cody Laboratories was gearing for a $50.5 million expansion that would add 57 new jobs. But in April, it announced the expansion was going to be postponed because funding never came through. Now the facility, owned by the Lannett Company, is facing close to 50 layoffs. That's more than a third of the staff. 

Caroline Ballard

Walk around Jackson this summer, and you can expect to see a few things: lots of people, lots of traffic, and lots of help wanted signs.

money
CC0 Public Domain

In another sign that Wyoming’s economy is improving, statewide inflation increased by just over two percent in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Dave Heath

The Wyoming Institute for Disabilities is launching a five-year strategic plan to advocate for better policies for the disabled in Wyoming. Andy Imparato is a lawyer and the executive director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

 

The Gillette Workforce Center had a front row seat for the town’s coal woes.

The office has cream-colored walls, decorated with motivational posters and pictures of coal mines. Vermona Petersen is the manager of the center, which helps people find a new job.

“At the height of the layoffs last year, we were seeing between 250 and 300 people a day,” she said. 

Wyoming coal mines laid off more than 450 workers last March amid financial troubles exacerbated by low natural gas prices and debt.

picserver.org/e/economy.html

Wyoming’s economy is the most sluggish in the nation, according to a report released by Bloomberg in December. That ranking came from analysis of employment, income, stock and home prices, as well as late mortgage payments around the nation. Bloomberg analysts attributed the state’s poor score to the recent energy downturn, as well as the fact that Wyoming has no urban center, where job growth tends to accelerate.

Public Domain

The Obama Administration announced the approval of two major transmission lines, one that will travel 728 miles across southern Wyoming to Nevada, delivering 3,000 megawatts of energy, enough to power 1.8 million homes. A second 400-mile transmission line called Energy Gateway South has also been approved for Utah.

Some 60 new wind, solar and geothermal projects are slated for development around the West. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Brad Purdy said, the energy grid is in need of such modernization. 

The Modern West 17: Western Coal On The Rocks

Nov 14, 2016
Stephanie Joyce

It’s been a tough year for the coal industry and the communities that depend on it. Can Wyoming adapt?

Stephanie Joyce

  

Coal country is celebrating Donald Trump’s election victory. Support for Trump was strong from Appalachia to Wyoming, and people have high hopes he can reverse coal’s recent downturn. But can he?

Like most of his co-workers, Jeremy Murphy listened to the election results on the radio in his pickup truck as he worked the overnight shift at the country’s largest coal mine, in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

“The two-way radios at work were really quiet,” he said. “Really, really quiet.”

Wikimedia Commons

  

Donald Trump promised sweeping reforms to the energy industry during the campaign. He vowed to bring back coal jobs, boost domestic oil and gas production, back out of international climate change agreements and gut the Environmental Protection Agency.

Remington Reitsma

The downturn in the energy industry over the last couple years has left a scarcity of jobs for many college graduates from the University of Wyoming, and across the country.

Over the weekend, the University of Wyoming hosted the annual geosciences job fair which hoped to help the problem. But the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous job fair has seen better years. In the past the job fair has hosted up to 32 companies, and this year there were only six. Even so, Matt Rhoads, a graduate student from Illinois State, said he wasn't discouraged.

Wyoming's largest economic sector has taken a nosedive in recent years with the crash in oil, coal, and natural gas prices, but the August Wyoming Insight report from the Economic Analysis division shows things may be starting to stabilize. 

According to the report, the unemployment rate has stayed at 5.7 percent since June.

“Both natural gas price and oil price have been rising,” said state economist Wenlin Liu. “That’s a good signal. And another sign we have been seeing is that the unemployment insurance claim has been flattening.”

University of Wyoming Facebook

Wyoming is facing difficult economic times. Last year, the state lost 6,500 jobs, mostly in oil and gas, and things haven’t much better this year. The state government is making major reductions and even Wyoming Medical Center in Casper cut 58 positions. For that reason, right now is a tough time for University of Wyoming’s graduates to enter the job force, particularly if they want to stay in the state.

Peabody Energy / Wikimedia Commons

Last Friday, anyone driving past the Holiday Inn Express in Douglas, Wyoming, might have remarked on the large number of American-made pickup trucks in the parking lot. If they stuck around for a while, they would have seen that most of those pickup trucks belonged to stoney-faced men, who emerged from the hotel one-by-one, clutching blue folders.

“They put us all in one room and they told us all they were sorry, it was a layoff,” Kyle Christiansen recounted.

Wyoming's average personal income of just over $55,000 ranked seventh in the nation in 2015. Wyoming workers earned over $10,000 higher than the average in the region.

However, wages decreased by $37 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to the third. According to the state's Economic Analysis Division, the construction sector has had the largest impact on income growth, while mining and farming have seen the biggest decline.

Economist Jim Robinson says despite recent downward trends in the energy industry, he expects things to stabilize.

Google Earth

Peabody Energy is one of the largest coal companies in the world and operates mines all over the United States. But some of its senior lenders are now recommending bankruptcy, as the company faces potential defaults on several loans.

With energy prices in a slump, oil and gas employment in Wyoming was down 30% in December from the same time in 2014, to just under 13,000 jobs. Economist David Bullard says oil prices have nose dived over the last year.

“So it's not surprising to see job loss in oil and gas here in Wyoming," Bullard says.

Oil prices are currently hovering around $30 a barrel. 

Bob Beck

 

When you drive north into Torrington on highway 85 you see an iconic place. Since 1926 the Sugar beet factory, currently owned by Western Sugar Cooperative has been a mainstay of the local economy. Now is the busy season for the plant and you can hear it hum. Torrington is a small agriculture town of 7,000 people and according to Gilbert Servantez,  who is the manager of the Torrington Workforce Services Center, the sugar factory has been a major employer. 

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

With oil hovering around $45 a barrel these days, oil workers can go from making a six-figure salary, including overtime, to being unemployed and broke. When business is good, a $60,000 dollar truck, for example, might be a reasonable purchase and maybe even a business expense. But the oil industry isn’t like most businesses. Work can go away overnight.

Leigh Paterson/Inside Energy

Third-generation coal miner Kent Parrish was blown away the first time he saw a Wyoming coal mine.

“Seventy-five to a hundred-foot coal seams!” he said, recounting the experience on a recent evening while peering down in the huge black pit of the Eagle Butte coal mine, north of Gillette. “If we hit a six-foot seam back home, we thought we hit the motherlode.”

Miles Bryan

Blake Dahlinger is a 33 year old musician. He lives in Los Angeles, but he grew up in Rawlins.

“It was obviously a small town,” he says. “But it was a really great place to grow up.”

The thing is, Dahlinger’s brand of frenetic punk rock didn’t get much play in Rawlins. So he did what a lot of Wyoming kids do: he finished school and moved away to a big city.

Aaron Schrank

The rodeo may be the best-known competition at Cheyenne Frontier days, but outside the arena there is another group of skilled professionals vying for glory. Carnival games operators leverage years of practice and skill to convince people like you to pay cash for the opportunity to win a push, stuffed prize. For many of them, it's not just a job: it's a way of life. Wyoming Public Radio’s Miles Bryan spent time with a few of these games operators and has this postcard.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming’s Department of Workforce Services has unveiled a new program intended to bring former residents back to the state to live and work. Called Wyoming Grown, it allows family members or friends of someone living out of state to refer them the Department of Workforce Services, who will attempt to recruit them back to Wyoming to fill a job. 

Aaron Schrank

Life after high school looks a bit different for every Wyoming graduate. Some are set on college or a career. Others are more worried about making money this summer. In an effort to prepare students who are less interested in academic options, one high school started a program that trains some seniors to be commercial truckers.

For the final two weeks of his Douglas High School career, Garret Blackburn has been spending most of his time hanging out in the parking lot.  

“This is definitely a lot more interesting than sitting around the classroom,” Blackburn says.

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