Governor, Department of Workforce Services Celebrate Great Job Data

Wyoming’s economy continues to show signs of health – especially within Wyoming’s workforce. Due to the efforts of Governor Gordon and the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) to help citizens get jobs in their communities, fewer individuals are receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. In turn, the state is realizing historic benefits and opportunities for Wyoming businesses and employers. 

The most current data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey shows an estimated 18,000 job openings in Wyoming as of July 2023. At that same time, Wyoming only had 1,835 individuals receiving UI benefits. The state’s unemployment rate fell to 2.9%, lower than the current U.S. unemployment rate of 3.8%. 

“Historically, this tells us that most people who want jobs have them,” said Director Robin Sessions Cooley, Department of Workforce Services (DWS). “The reality is only a small fraction of workers are receiving unemployment benefits, averaging 15 weeks or less. Understanding labor market trends and what is driving those trends is essential to helping bring employees and employers together.”

As a result, Wyoming’s employers are seeing the positive impacts. In 2022, for the first time in the history of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, the minimum tax rate for Wyoming employers was lowered to zero percent (0%). Thanks to a healthy Federal UI Trust Fund balance, the zero percent rate remained in effect for 2023.

To provide additional funds for training and on-the-job opportunities, DWS is exploring ways to reallocate the UI funding distributions to the Workforce Development Training Fund that helps offset the costs of, or completely pays for, employer training, internship/apprenticeship, and workforce development opportunities.

“Wyoming has a strong and ambitious populace. Our work ethic is second to none. Folks here are used to working hard and not sitting on the sidelines collecting benefits. They know what they contribute to Wyoming’s economy,” said Governor Gordon. “In turn, we can take advantage of these historic opportunities to ease costs for employers and support a growing and thriving workforce for tomorrow.” 

DWS has worked with the Joint Appropriations Committee to propose changes that could reduce Workers’ Compensation premiums paid by employers. The result of this work is a legislative bill draft that would allow a portion of the investment income to be considered during the employer rate-making process. Currently, the Workers’ Compensation Division has an actuary who completes an annual Economic Capital Model review to project the future distribution of assets, liabilities, pricing, and catastrophic risks. A review of 14 years of data revealed that using 2.5% of the interest income on the Provision for Adverse Deviation fund could have resulted in a decrease of approximately $325 million in employer-paid premiums.