Population found historically dependent on workforce opportunities

The ENDOW (Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming) 2017 socioeconomic assessment reported that Wyoming’s population declined approximately by 1,000 between July 2015 and July 2016.

Tast, who is also a member of the Southeast Wyoming Workforce Advisory Group, said that the Southeast area of Wyoming is in fact currently facing workforce issues.

“The very first phase was to go around the state and do a snapshot of our entire state and individually by region of what the needs were and the diversification options or opportunities there,” Maryellen Tast, dean at the LCCC School of Outreach and Workforce Development, said.

When the assessment dived into the demographic trends of Wyoming, it said that Wyoming’s migration patterns have been historically dependent on employment opportunities in the state and economic opportunities open in the U.S.

“I think that we’re really lucky here at LCCC because I think we do have an administration here that’s very sensitive to that and very responsive to it,” Tast said. “But we do have issues, everybody does and I think the alignment to what the workforce needs is one of the biggest issue that we have.”

From 1970-83, Wyoming experienced a population increase by nearly 54 percent (180,000) when oil production reached its peak, according to the assessment. Reversely, from 1983-90 the population declined by 11 percent (57,700) when oil prices dropped by 70 percent. By the end of the ‘90s, the national population growth was 13.3 percent compared to Wyoming’s 8.9 percent.

“Nationwide, both population and labor force growth rates are expected to be slow as many baby boomers retire, coupled with an historically low fertility rate and limited international immigration,” the assessment said.

President Dr. Joe Schaffer presented a PowerPoint to the ENDOW Executive Council in January and pointed out that according to a survey conducted by Analysis and Summary from Market Street Services, Inc. 2018, found that from the 1970s to the early 2000s the nation’s working age population (16-64) rose by 200,000 each month. For the past two years, monthly workforce growth is currently 70,000. That number is expected to fall to nearly 50,000 in the next 15 years, according to the Census Bureau.

“We’re one of few states that actually saw negative job growth over the last year, and of course you know what that meant for our population,” Schaffer said during his presentation. “We’re one of the few states that saw negative growth in our population.”

Schaffer also covered the net international immigration into the United States and said that is accounted for 61 percent of the nation’s population growth in the last 10 years.

“So regardless of your politics on immigration policy, on DACA and those types of things, that is a significant factor on where people may come from to fill the jobs,” Schaffer said. “Now, you take all that pressure at a time when we’re experiencing one of the largest and longest expansions and we essentially have full employment across the United States, it’s a recipe for disaster.”

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