Posted at 2:30 p.m., April 6, 2016
Wyoming lacking opportunity for young professionals
Wyomingites may be leaving state to seek change
Many of Wyoming’s youths tend to try to leave Wyoming as soon as they can. They are ready for a change and to live adventures outside of Wyoming. However, when a person leaves, it is rare they will return in their lifetime.
Many reasons contribute to the fact that Wyoming cannot hold on to its youths. Some include the economy the state is based on, the boom-and-bust cycle and the lack of events or things to do.
Mineral based economy
Wyoming’s economy is mainly based in minerals such as oil, gas and coal. Cheyenne does have a more diverse economy, said Rep. Mary Throne, D-Cheyenne. But people who have started careers in another state are less likely to take a pay cut to continue their careers in Wyoming. It is hard for people to succeed in their careers unless they are based in mining and other minerals jobs.
The people who succeed in Wyoming in non-mineral jobs tend to be people with deep roots. The same names often get used in Wyoming when it comes to powerful political positions: Cheney and Simpson, to name two.
The state is known for its boom-and-bust cycle when it comes to the economy. Since Wyoming depends on minerals for the majority of its economy, when prices are low, the state budget can decrease dramatically. It causes hiring freezes, layoffs and higher prices. Currently, the state is looking at a bust of more than $600 million total. It is one of the bigger shortfalls Wyoming has had in a while.
However, this cycle prevents people from wanting to base their careers in Wyoming because even if they are in a job that works with minerals, they are not guaranteed their jobs when a shortfall takes place. Especially for people who are aware of Wyoming’s boom-and-bust economy cycle.
“During the most recent downturn, the over-the-year decline in total wages was much greater in the third quarter of 2015 for support activities for mining decrease of 36.5 percent than it was for the statewide average decrease 2.5 percent,” Michael Moore, reporter for Wyoming Labor Force Trends, reported in his article “employment and wage change for selected industries in Wyoming, 2005Q3-2015Q3.”
The effect of unemployment
The same article says that construction work wages was at -5 percent for the third quarter of 2015 and education and health services wages are up over 3 percent. Overall, for the second quarter of 2015, Wyoming’s statewide average on wages is at -0.5 percent while surrounding states range from 1.2 to 3.9 percent.
As of November 2015, the unemployment rate in Wyoming rose to 4.1 percent, David Bullard, a reporter for Wyoming Labor Force Trends, reported in his article “Wyoming unemployment rates rises to 4.1 percentin November 2015.”
Also, the turnover rate for jobs in Wyoming from the Wyoming Labor Force Trends is at a total of 33.2 percent for 2015.
Another reason why youths want to leave or people do not want to return to their home state is because of the lack of things to do. There have been some attempts in downtown Cheyenne with unique shops and coffee houses to help young adults have a place to hangout.
Appealing to Wyomingites
One of the main elements keeping youth in Wyoming is the Hathaway scholarship. This scholarship is available to those who have graduated from a Wyoming high school and met the academic requirements. However, this scholarship can only be used for Wyoming colleges. It is helpful for students who want an education because a decent amount of college expenses are paid for through this scholarship, but it also limits college choices for young adults.
To bring people back to their home state or prevent youth from leaving, Wyoming needs to not be afraid of young adults wanting to explore places other than Wyoming. Instead, the state needs to focus on diversifying the economy so it provides more careers for when they want to come home and decreases the boom-and-bust cycle.