CHEYENNE — Wyoming’s total resident population grew slightly to 578,880 in July 2019, according to estimates just released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The annual increase from July 2018 was 1,158 persons, or 0.2 percent, after three consecutive years of decline. There are two factors contributing to the population change, according to Dr. Wenlin Liu, Chief Economist with the Economic Analysis Division. The natural increase (6,601 births less 4,971 deaths) was 1,630, but the estimated net migration (in-migration less outmigration) was about -470, which means that 470 more residents left Wyoming than moved into the State between July 2018 and July 2019. In contrast, the net migration was about -3,300 and the total population declined 1,330 between July 2017 and July 2018.
Nationally, the population was an estimated 328.2 million in 2019, an increase of 0.5 percent from the previous year. Idaho’s 2.1 percent rate led the nation, followed by Nevada (1.7%), Arizona (1.7%), and Utah (1.7%). Forty states and the District of Columbia saw population increase. Ten states lost population between 2018 and 2019, including West Virginia (-0.7%), Alaska (-0.5%), Illinois (-0.4%), and New York (-0.4%) during the 12-month period.
The reverse of population change from negative to positive was a reflection of economic improvement during the period.
“People tend to move to areas where the economy is vibrant, which is particularly true for Wyoming,” Liu said.
Changes in employment always tend to drive and lead the change in migration in the state. After the 2015-2016 downturn, Wyoming’s economy started to rebound in the beginning of 2017 and continued into 2019. The petroleum industry has led the rebound, and its activities also contributed to other industrial sectors’ improvement such as construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, and transportation services. The increased operational efficiency of drilling businesses means that less workers were hired back amid energy industry’s revival.
However, a strong increase in oil production in eastern Wyoming required additional pipeline to be built. As a result, the state’s overall labor market featured robust job growth of 1.9 percent between July 2018 and July 2019. Mostly driven by increased utility structure construction activities, the overall construction industry added 2,900 jobs, or 13.7 percent during the period, and contributed over 60 percent of total employment increase for the state.