The Best Places in Wyoming for Job Seekers

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Wyoming’s economy is on the road to recovery – the state’s unemployment rate in October 2013 was a mere 4.6 percent, down from a high of 7.5 percent in October 2009. As many workers are looking for employment opportunities, NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the best places for job seekers in Wyoming.

We found the best places for job seekers in the state by asking the following questions:

  1. Is the county growing? We assessed growth in the working-age population, ages 16 and older, from 2009 to 2011 to ensure that the county was attracting workers and exhibiting a trend of upward population growth.
  2. Can you afford to live in the county comfortably? We measured a county’s median household income to see if workers made a good living. We also analyzed the monthly homeowner costs, including mortgage payments, to see if the county had a reasonable cost of living.
  3. Are most people employed? We looked at the unemployment rate.

What makes these counties great? Let us know in the comments.

The Best Places in Wyoming for Job Seekers

1.     Sublette County

Sublette County is located in rural western Wyoming, situated along the Green River. Sublette County is home to parts of Bridger-Teton National Forest, and its county seat is Pinedale, which is also the largest city in the county. The county saw a working-age population growth of 20.1 percent between 2009 and 2011 while households earned a median income of $79,250 in 2011. The county also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, at just 3.0 percent. Major employers in Pinedale include Sublette Center and Faler’s General Store, in addition to many natural gas production companies. Pinedale is home to a branch of The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, where job seekers can find employment opportunities, training programs and other job-hunting resources.

2.     Campbell County

Campbell County is located in northeastern Wyoming, bordering Montana. The county seat is Gillette, and the county is the energy capital of the nation – 30 percent of America’s coal is produced here, and the coalbed methane industry is a major contributor to the economy. The county saw a working-age population growth of 9.0 percent between 2009 and 2011, and its households earned a median income of $78,356 in 2011. Major employers in Campbell County include Peabody Energy, Arch Coal and Campbell County Memorial Hospital. Gillette is home to Gillette College, a campus of the Northern Wyoming Community College District. The college provides students with personalized career services, and the district is constructing a new Technical Education Center to provide students with high-tech skills training. Additionally, the Campbell County Economic Development Corporation aims to develop the region’s economy and to provide job seekers with information on various workforce development programs.

3.     Sweetwater County

Sweetwater County is located in the southwestern corner of Wyoming, along the Wyoming-Colorado border. The county seat is Green River while the largest city is Rock Springs. The county saw a working-age population growth of 8.7 percent between 2009 and 2011 while its households earned a median income of $72,096 in 2011. The county’s largest employers include FMC Corporation, Halliburton and Tata Chemicals. Rock Springs is home to Western Wyoming Community College, which provides Workforce Development courses to help local residents obtain the training they need.

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4.     Converse County

Converse County is located in eastern Wyoming, and its county seat is Douglas. Douglas is located on the banks of the North Platte River, along the original Oregon Trail. Converse County saw a working-age population increase of 5.0 percent between 2009 and 2011, and the county saw an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent in August 2013. Ranching, transportation and oil and coal are all large industries, with leading county employers such as Powder River Coal Company, Trancisco and Dave Johnston Power Plant. The Converse Area New Development Organization works on attracting new businesses and fostering local businesses in the region.

5.     Crook County

Crook County is located in Wyoming’s northwestern corner, bordering Montana to its north and South Dakota to its east. The county seat is Sundance, and the county is home to the Devils Tower, a laccolith near Hulett. The county saw a working-age population growth of 8.3 percent between 2009 and 2011 as well as an unemployment rate of 3.6 percent in August 2013. Top employers in the county include Neiman Enterprises, Crook County Medical Services and Energy Electric. The University of Wyoming has an extension in Crook County that brings educational programs and other resources to residents.

6.     Teton County

Teton County is located in western Wyoming, bordering Idaho. It is home to Jackson Hole, a famous skiing region, as well as Grand Teton National Park and part of Yellowstone National Park. The county saw a working-age population growth of 5.1 percent, and its households earned a median income of $73,627 in 2011. Top employers in Jackson Hole include St. John’s Medical Center, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and MetWest Terra Hospitality. Teton County Library provides a list of resources for job seekers, including links to job postings, statewide employment programs and job-searching resources.

7.     Niobrara County

Located on the eastern side of Wyoming, Niobrara County borders South Dakota and Nebraska. Lusk, the county seat, was founded in 1886 and is home to 1,557 residents. The county saw a working-age population increase of 4.7 percent from 2009 to 2011 while its unemployment rate was only 3.5 percent in August 2013. The county’s major employers include the Union Pacific Railroad, the Wyoming Women’s Center and the Niobrara Electric Association.

8.     Weston County 

Weston County is located on the eastern side of Wyoming, bordering South Dakota. Its largest city and county seat is Newcastle. The county’s households earned a median income of $55,156 in 2011 while its unemployment rate was only 3.7 percent. Major employers in Newcastle include Rio Tinto Kennecott, Wyoming Refining Company and Weston County Health Services.

9.     Lincoln County

Lincoln County, located in western Wyoming, sits along the border of Idaho and Utah. Kemmerer, its largest city and county seat, is located in the southern part of the county. The county saw an 8.5 percent growth in its working-age population between 2009 and 2011 while its households earned a median income of $60,543 in 2011. Major industries are mining and ranching. In the south, near Kemmerer and Diamondville, coal, oil and gas are major industries while dairy farming and ranching dominate the north, near Star Valley. J.C. Penney was originally founded in Kemmerer, and the founder’s house is now a National Historic Landmark.

10.  Albany County

Albany County is located in southwestern Wyoming, bordering Colorado. Its county seat and largest city is Laramie, which is also the third-largest city in the state, after Cheyenne and Casper. The county saw a working-age population growth of 6.6 percent from 2011 to 2009 while its unemployment rate was only 3.8 percent. Major employers in Albany County include the University of Wyoming, Ivinson Memorial Hospital and Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests. Job seekers can find resources from the Laramie Economic Development Corporation. Laramie Community College provides plenty of courses and programs for its residents through adult education, skill assessments and life enrichment services.

Rank County Largest City in County Working-Age Population Change (2009 to 2011) Median Household Income (2011) Monthly Homeowner Costs (2011) Unemployment Rate (2013) Overall Score
1 Sublette County Pinedale 20.1% $79,250 $1,684 3.0% 90.7
2 Campbell County Gillette 9.0% $78,356 $1,446 3.5% 67.0
3 Sweetwater County Rock Springs 8.7% $72,096 $1,362 3.7% 62.1
4 Converse County Douglas 5.0% $56,673 $1,230 3.1% 58.2
5 Crook County Sundance 8.3% $49,757 $1,112 3.6% 55.9
6 Teton County Jackson 5.1% $73,627 $2,258 3.1% 52.8
7 Niobrara County Lusk 4.7% $44,875 $967 3.5% 50.6
8 Weston County Newcastle 4.1% $55,156 $1,141 3.7% 49.2
9 Lincoln County Kemmerer 8.5% $60,543 $1,317 4.6% 45.0
10 Albany County Laramie 6.6% $45,760 $1,428 3.8% 44.4

Methodology

The overall score for each county was derived from the following measures:

  1. Population change from 2009 to 2011 from the U.S. Census (2009 and 2011 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS))
  2. Median household income from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, half-weighted)
  3. Monthly homeowner costs with mortgage payments from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, half-weighted)
  4. Unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013)

23 counties and county equivalents designated by the U.S. Census were included in this analysis.

Photo Credit: Jackson, Wyoming by Ken Lund

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