Wyoming Population Grows After Three Years of Decline

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: 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. 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,” said Dr. Wenlin Liu, Chief Economist with the Economic Analysis Division.

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. 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.

Because of continued decline in fertility rate (the number of births per 1,000 females aged 15-44) and the aging of baby-boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) nationwide, the contribution to population from natural increase is becoming ever smaller.

In 2018, 3.79 million births were registered, down from 4.32 million in 2007. On the other hand, the number of deaths increased from 2.42 million to 2.84 during the same period. The U.S. population growth rate of 0.5 percent became one of the lowest figures ever registered in history.

In Wyoming, the fertility rate in 2018 was 61 births per 1,000 females (aged 15-44). This is down 4.8% from 2017, one of the worst drops in the nation. The number of births was 8,134 and the number of deaths was 4,183 in 2008 (calendar year) based on Wyoming Department of Health data, so the natural increase (birth – death) was nearly 4,000 in that year. However, ten years later, the natural increase was just below 1,500 as births decreased to 6,556 and deaths increased to 5,069 in 2018.

“The downturn of Wyoming’s energy dependent economy in 2015 and 2016 drove many residents out of the state, and the out-migration of this younger working population was also responsible for the fast decline of births,” Liu commented.

Wyoming has one of the highest proportions of baby boomers (age 54-72 in 2018) in the U.S. The number of people aged 65 years and over grew 3.9% over the past year, which is higher than the U.S. rate (3.1%.)

“Both the number and the proportion of old residents will continued to grow fast in the coming decades as more boomers age into 65 years old, and so will the number of deaths,” Liu said. “Consequently, policy makers in many states must place increased attention on caring for a larger and more dependent aging population, and dealing with the realities of a slow-growing labor force.”

Meanwhile, every state will have to rely heavily on domestic in-migration and international immigrants in order to fuel population growth or even to avoid decline.

Wyoming figures and charts available by clicking here. The complete figures and methodology are available on the U.S. Census Bureau’s website.




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