Wyoming sees slowest annual population increase since 2001 with 0.2 percent growth


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CHEYENNE, Wyoming — Wyoming's population increased 0.2 percent over a year to 584,153 in July 2014, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The annual increase from July 2013 of 930 persons is the slowest increase since 2001.

After accounting for births and deaths, the estimated net migration indicates that nearly 2,200 more persons left Wyoming than moved into the state between July 2013 and July 2014.

"Migration is mostly driven by changes in employment, which is particularly true for Wyoming," said Wenlin Liu, principal economist with state Economic Analysis Division.

People tend to move to areas where there are jobs available and conversely may leave the area where employment opportunities becomes limited.

Teton County led the state with the fastest population growth of 2.5 percent between July 2013 and July 2014.

Crook and Lincoln were the only other counties that saw population increases of more than 1.0 percent.

"Strong construction, services, and viable tourism related activities in Teton County, without direct impact from energy price fluctuations, have resulted in a higher demand for labor," Liu said.

The job growth rate was 3.9 percent in Teton County, compared to 0.1 percent for the state between 2012 and 2013.

Over half of Wyoming's counties experienced population declines. Niobrara, Converse and Washakie counties saw at least 1.5 percent declines.

"People tend to move to areas where economies are vibrant," Liu said.

Mainly due to the drop in natural gas price in early 2012, the mineral extraction industry lost jobs and there was little total employment growth during the second half of 2012 and most of 2013.

As a result, workers responded and an out-migration occurred mostly in the second half of 2013.

In addition, oil exploration in states such as North Dakota, Texas, and Colorado showed strong expansion, which attracted many Wyoming energy workers and residents during that period.

"However, the state's economy gradually regained strength in 2014, thanks to the strong expansion of oil drilling, rebounding construction, and the strength of the service providing industries," Liu said.

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