Oil and gas unemployment rates remain high in nation, state


The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its latest unemployment figures Friday that showed an increase in payrolls that offset a disappointing performance in May, but the impact on Wyoming is unclear.

Nationwide, nonfarm payroll increased by 287,000 in June, a far better performance than May’s anemic job creation numbers of 16,000. The biggest increases in employment were in the leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance and financial services sectors. Mining, including oil and gas extraction, has the highest unemployment rate of the major work sectors tracked by the BLS. The unemployment rate for mining jobs increased from 8.9 percent to 11.5 percent over the year from June 2015 to June 2016.

The lowest unemployment rate by business sector is financial services, which posted an unemployment rate of 2.2 percent in June, according to the BLS’ figures.

The national unemployment rate increased slightly in June to 4.9 percent from 4.7 percent in May. The increase in unemployment is due to people re-entering the job market, the BLS said in its report.

The BLS will not release figures broken down by state until later in the month, but in May, Wyoming had the 12th highest unemployment rate of all states, with a statewide unemployment rate of 5.6, reflecting job losses in the mining and oil/gas industries.

The Wyoming Department of Workforce development issued a report in June 2015 estimating a 6.1 percent decrease in employment in the mining and oil and gas extraction sectors, with 1,664 jobs lost. Nationwide, mining has lost 211,000 jobs since Sept., 2014.

The job numbers are a good bit of news for a US economy in the midst of slowing economic activity in Europe, the turmoil in markets caused by BREXIT, and a rapidly cooling Chinese economy. The Federal Reserve Bank increased its target rate in December, concerned that the economy might be getting too hot and would find itself looking at inflation. Many analysts expected a similar rate increase to come later this year, but with mixed signals from the US and global economies, the Fed has not yet determined what to do next.

In the minutes of its June 14-15 meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), there was a general agreement amongst board members that more data were needed before the FOMC could consider another rate hike.

The BLS will release state-level unemployment numbers in the middle of the month.


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