A Senior Wyoming Economist says an estimated 8200 people left the state labor force between November 2017 and last month.

David Bullard says that total includes both people who have left the state as well as those who have quit trying to find work.

The report of a shrinking state labor force comes on the heels of a release from the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday that said Wyoming's population declined by about 6,000 people between July 2016 and the same time this year. That's a population decline of about 1 percent over that period, the biggest decline in Wyoming since 1989.

Bullard says Wyoming's unemployment rate last month was 4.3 percent, compared to 4.9 percent in November 2016. While such a sizable drop in the jobless rate would normally be good news, Bullard says the decline in unemployment is obviously tied to the shrinking labor force in this case.

While unemployment rate did increase by a tenth of a percentage point between October and November 2017, Bullard says the increase is too small to be considered statistically significant.

Low energy prices over the past couple of years have caused job losses in the state's energy industry, which is the largest sector of the state economy. Bullard says the good news is that energy prices have been climbing recently.

That's especially true of crude oil prices, which have been ranging above $56 per barrel in recent weeks.

Bullard says in Wyoming the monthly rig count, which was in single digits for much of 2016, has been at or above 25 for most of this year, which bodes well for the state economy going forward.

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