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Unemployment Rises In Wyoming

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Despite the major layoffs in the coal industry this year, the unemployment rate in Wyoming rose slightly in June, up by .1% to 5.7% since May. Although that rise isn’t significant, it is a serious increase from last June when it was only 4.2%.

A report from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services says almost every county in Wyoming has seen increases in unemployment since last summer. Senior Economist David Ballard says the largest of these increases were seen in the more energy dependent counties. Natrona, Converse, and Campbell County all increased by over 3%.

“What happens in the state’s economy largely depends on energy prices,” he says. “We’ve seen oil prices recover somewhat, but the rig county remains really low.”

For that reason, Bullard says the numbers don’t surprise him and the impact of low energy prices can be felt all across the state.

“There are many sectors that have been affected directly and indirectly, and of course, as unemployment goes up people have less money to spend and that affects local businesses around the state,” Bullard says.

He says as long as those energy prices remain low, the state can expect employment to remain sluggish as well.

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.

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