Weathering the energy crisis

As Wyoming works to rebound from a struggling energy sector, Albany County’s unemployment rate remains among the lowest in the state, a Wyoming Department of Workforce Services document reports.

After starting 2017 with an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent in January, which was below the seasonally adjusted national and statewide rates — both 4.8 percent, Albany County’s unemployment dropped to 2.8 percent in February.

“January is just a low point for jobs and high point for unemployment,” Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Research and Planning Senior Economist David Bullard said. “Often unemployment rates hit their highest in January.”

With Albany County’s unemployment rate at 3.3 percent in February 2016, the decrease continues a statewide trend of less people reporting they are unemployed in 2017. Although the seasonally adjusted national rate was 4.9 percent in February 2016, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services reported the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.3 percent at the same time. But Bullard said the decrease wasn’t necessarily an indicator of job growth.

“Unemployment rates are counted where the people who filed live,” he said. “Some of the people who’ve lost their jobs have probably left the state, and that’s most likely what we’re seeing there.”

Albany County’s unemployment rate remained mostly unaffected. Bullard said the county’s annual average for 2015 was 3.1 percent unemployment and 2016’s annual average was 3.2 percent.

“The state as a whole suffered job losses because of the lack of energy jobs, but Albany (County) has remained quite stable,” Bullard said.

Whereas the cost of living in Wyoming’s southeast region — Niobrara, Carbon, Laramie, Platte, Goshen and Albany counties — increased 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, Albany County’s cost of living rate remained at the state average, according to a Wyoming Department of Administration and Information report.

As a whole, the state experienced an increase in annual inflation of 0.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2016, the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information documents state.

Inflation rates for Albany County’s housing, transportation and medical were below the state average with medical being the lowest at 95 percent of average, while the county’s food, apparel and recreation rates were above average with apparel being the highest at 112 percent of average.

In the housing category, rental rates for apartments and houses increased less than 5 percent in Albany County, but mobile home rent increased nearly 7 percent and mobile home lot rent increased nearly 10 percent, the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information reports.

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