Amid economic turmoil across the state and nation, Albany County has the lowest unemployment rate in Wyoming.
The Research and Planning section of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services reported on July 21 that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped from 8.8% in May to 7.6% in June.
While still much higher than the 3.6% unemployment rate in June 2019, Wyoming’s rate was significantly lower than the U.S. rate of 11.1%.
David Bullard, Wyoming Department of Workforce Services senior economist, said this could be attributed to the pandemic affecting Wyoming at a less severely than the rest of the country.
“The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been as bad here in Wyoming as it has been in many places around the country and we haven’t had as many shutdowns of businesses and that type of thing.” Bullard said.
Albany County’s lack of reliance on the energy sector is behind its consistent low unemployment rate, Bullard said.
“Even before the pandemic really got going, oil and gas jobs were going away,” Bullard said. “Energy prices were bad back in January and February and they got worse. … Albany County has very little oil and gas activity or coal mining for that matter so they haven’t seen those losses that many other parts of the state have.”
The three counties with the highest unemployment rates — Natrona County, Campbell County, and Sweetwater County — are all heavily reliant on energy production.
Another contributing factor to higher unemployment rates is the lack of tourist activity in Wyoming because of the coronavirus Teton and Park counties have been among the hardest hit in their tourism sectors.
“Albany County has less of that, so they haven’t seen as many job losses in that type of area either,” Bullard said.
Bullard said he’s confident Albany County’s economy will remain relatively steady going forward.
“Historically, Albany County’s economy has been fairly stable compared to other parts of the state. I don’t see that changing, at least not changing in a big way in the near future,” Bullard said.
Research and Planning has scheduled the July unemployment news release for August 25, 2020.