Employment in Wyoming's coal mining sector has fallen 6 percent in the past year. The latest data from June 2013 shows there were 425 less jobs than in June 2012.
Coal production has slumped nationwide, and taken jobs along with it, but Wyoming is faring better than other coal producing regions. Nationwide the sector has lost significantly more jobs as mines closed or reduced their capacity.
Wyoming Department of Workforce Services senior economist David Bullard, says so far, there haven't been many layoffs in the state.
“It’s 6-percent, so it’s not huge. And in fact we follow the unemployment insurance claims pretty closely here and we have not seen large numbers of claims, so it would appear that the coal mines are losing some jobs through attrition as people retire or quit, they’re not replacing them. If there were large layoffs we would see that in the unemployment insurance claims,” says Bullard.
Experts blame low natural gas prices, warm winters, and increasing regulation of the industry for the job and production losses. A cold winter this year could increase production in 2014, but analysts say it would be a short-lived spike.