Wyoming Census Report Released, Natrona County’s Growth Leads State
Wyoming’s total resident population reached 576,412 in July 2012, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The annual increase from July 2011 was 9,056 persons, or 1.6 percent, the fastest in three years. The estimated net migration, after accounting for the natural change (7,426 births and 4,426 deaths), indicated that
about 6,000 more persons moved into Wyoming than left the State between July 2011 and July 2012. In contrast, the annual net migration was slightly negative from July 2010 to July 2011, which means that more Wyomingites left the state than people moved in over the year. The U.S. population increased 0.7 percent from July 2011 to July 2012.
Wyoming’s growth rate ranked the 4th fastest in the nation, only slower than North Dakota (2.2%), Washington D.C. (2.1%), and Texas (1.7%).
Natrona County led the state with the largest population growth of 2,265, or 3.0 percent between July 2011 and July 2012. Campbell, Converse, Laramie, Sublette, and Sweetwater counties also experienced strong increases of at least 2.0 percent, each. Migration is mostly driven by change in employment, and people tend to move to areas where there are jobs available. The severe recession in 2009 caused the slow population growth in 2010 and 2011 for the state.
However, Wyoming’s energy driven economy recovered well, and performed quite robustly during the second half of 2011 and the first six months of 2012. The annual employment growth rates of over 2.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first six months of 2012 were the fastest since the fourth quarter of 2008.
There were five counties in the State that showed population contractions during the year, led by the 1.3 percent decline in Niobrara County.
For Wyoming, in-migration growth is always led by increase in employment. Caused by
the oversupply and low demand of natural gas and coal, and therefore weak prices for
both minerals, the state’s job market has been getting softer since the early summer of
2012. As a result, the current in-migration for Wyoming is probably more moderate.
However, the oil drilling in the Niobrara shale inside Wyoming (mainly in Northern
Converse County) continues to be very active. Consequently, Casper, as an energy
hub for the regional mineral extraction services, has recently become an economic
hotspot in the state. In addition, Wyoming’s overall energy market is expected to improve as the private sector of U.S. economy continues to pick up speed in 2013, so the uptrend of population movement to the state may follow.