Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Downward Jobs Trend Continues

In November I reported that Wyoming had seen 17 months straight of private-sector job losses. Since then, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has released another month of state-level jobs data, and the update for Wyoming is as one could expect: we are now at 18 months straight of losing jobs in the private sector - and it is not just minerals.

To begin with, the BLS has updated the jobs numbers for September, adjusting total private employment downward from 214,000 to 213,400. In other words, final numbers show that the job-loss trend is a little bit worse than what I reported in November.

Now, let's add the October numbers to my report from last month. First, the decline in private-sector employment (over same month previous year):

Figure 1
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

In September, the private sector had 9,600 fewer employees; in October the decline was 9,900. This represents -4.3 percent and -4.4 percent, respectively. 

As I have mentioned before, the minerals sector started this decline, but it is no longer the only sector bleeding jobs. Here is their employment trend, in a similar chart:

Figure 2:
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The job-loss streak in the minerals sector is now at 21 months straight. In September, Wyoming minerals companies had 4,200 fewer employees compared to the same month in 2015; in October the decline was 4,400. Or -18.6 and -19.3 percent, respectively.

In other words, the minerals sector is responsible for less than half of the decline in private-sector employment. While it looks like the job loss in the minerals industry has actually leveled off, it is continuing in other sectors. Some examples:

Construction industry: -2,800 employees in October, compared to October 2014; of those, 1,700 were lost in the past year;
Wholesale trade: 1,300 of 9,600 employees laid off since October 2014 (though the decline has stabilized in the last four months); 
Retail trade: Has gone from a net gain in jobs in June to losing 1,500 jobs in October, compared to same months 2015; this is not a huge decline, given 31,000 employees in October 2015, but the change in the trend indicates that the state's bad economy is eating its way into the core of consumer spending;
Transportation and Warehousing: Of 13,400 employees in October 2014, 1,900 have lost their jobs, with almost three out of four of them being laid off in the past year; in other words, an accelerating decline;
Leisure and Hospitality (Tourism, approximately): down 1,600 jobs since October 2014, though with most of the job losses happening in 2015; however, just as with Retail Trade, this industry has gone from adding to losing jobs over 2015;
Financial Activities: Decline from 11,400 employees in October 2014 to 11,000 a year ago and 10,600 in October 2016; layoffs tend to happen around New Year, so January and February numbers will be interesting.

Health Care and Social Services are adding jobs. State government is almost exactly at its 2014 employment levels, 15,800, which does not say much since there was only a modest uptick in state employment in 2015.  Local governments also hold steady compared to two years ago, with an odd uptick in employment in 2015.

Overall, in October Wyoming had 311 state and local government workers per 1,000 private workers, the highest ratio in the country.

Once again, I feel compelled to point out that with the job-loss trend spreading to other industries; with the minerals industry only being responsible for a minority of lost private-sector jobs; it would be a bad idea to impose any new taxes on Wyomingites

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