Park County’s unemployment rate, while still much higher than last year, dropped more than 1% for May.

The county rate, 9.5% in April, fell to 8.3% in May, according to the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.

The state rate was 8.8%.

The state’s economy improved modestly in May as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were loosened and some businesses reopened. At 8.8%, Wyoming’s unemployment rate was significantly lower than the U.S. rate of 13.3%.

Most county unemployment rates fell from April to May, perhaps suggesting small-scale improvement in labor markets around the state. The largest unemployment rate decreases occurred in Teton (down from 18.2% to 15.0%), Sublette (down from 11.4% to 9.8%), and Johnson (down from 9.7% to 8.1%) counties. Unemployment rates rose slightly in Converse County (up from 6.4% to 7.3%) and Carbon County (up from 6.8% to 7.0%).

Unemployment rates were higher than a year earlier in all 23 counties. The largest increases were seen in Teton County (up from 2.9% to 15.0%), Natrona County (up from 3.7% to 11.7%), Campbell County (up from 3.2% to 9.7%), and Sweetwater County (up from 3.5% to 9.7%).

Niobrara County had the lowest unemployment rate in May at 4.5%. It was followed by Albany County at 4.9% and Weston County at 5.0%. The highest unemployment rates were found in Teton at 15.0%, Natrona at 11.7%, and Sublette at 9.8%.

Total nonfarm employment in Wyoming (not seasonally adjusted and measured by place of work) decreased from 292,300 in May 2019 to 265,500 in May 2020, a decline of 26,800 jobs (minus 9.2%).

Dislocated worker grants available

There is help available for workers who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services has several programs to help unemployed workers find work or get training in order to find new or better jobs.

DWS received $200,000 from the United States Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, for a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act National Dislocated Worker Grant to assists dislocated workers. The funding offers assistance with career and training services to assist dislocated worker during these unprecedented times. A portion of the National Emergency Grant also will offer Disaster-Relief Employment opportunities.

“The WIOA program also has other career services available for dislocated workers,” said Deputy Administrator Christina West of the DWS Employment and Training Division. “These career services include career guidance and planning, survival job search assistance, resume assistance, help with interviewing skills, and support service assistance for those who are engaged in an employment and training activity.”

Some examples of employment and training activities are looking for jobs, upskilling and enrolling in post-secondary education opportunities. Support services may include assistance with the WIOA participant’s portion of rent, utility, phone bill, etc. Training services offer opportunities to reach educational goals for completion of industry-recognized credentials and certificates in high-demand and high-growth occupations.

For more information on the National Dislocated Worker Grant or the WIOA program, please contact the nearest Workforce Center.

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