Posted at 2 p.m., April 12, 2016

Wyoming attracts youths, loses experienced residents

'We hope to keep people here once they have experience in their field.' - Tony Glover, Head of Research and planning at Workforce Services

As the lowest-ranking state for population, the long held belief has been that Wyoming cannot hold on to its young people.

Statistic show, however, that belief may not be completely accurate.

A large part of that fear has been dedicated to young people leaving Wyoming once they reach the 20-34 age group. That, however, does not seem to be completely accurate.

With an approximate population of 567,631 according to a 2014 census estimate, Wyoming is actually seeing an increase in young people as residents.

Ages of Wyoming residence

In the age group 20-34, population numbers actually increased in the 2000-2014 time period.

In 2000, the number of Wyoming residents in the age group was 93,121 people, which increased by 27,410 people or 29.43 percent by 2014.

Where there is an actual drop in population is in the 40-49 age range, where 12,610 residents left the state between 2000 and 2014.

Overall, Wyoming has seen an approximate 14.8 percent increase in population since 2000.

Population change over time

It appears that the 20-34 age group has only had a decrease in population when looking at the data from 1980 when population was at 140,518 for the 20-34 age group. It faced a major dip in 1994 with a 44,661 decrease. This number began increasing again in 1999 and has steadily been increasing ever since.

Laramie County, the largest county in Wyoming, has increased in the 20-34 age group by 2,222 since the census estimate in 2000.
Wyoming Department of Workforce Services has done research on the employment of 18-years-olds and tracked them 10 years into the future. Researchers have found that in-state employment does not decrease once workers get into their 30s and older.

Once a person has experience and a college degree, he or she is prone to leaving Wyoming to find work elsewhere.

Tony Glover, head of Research and Planning at Workforce Services, said, “The decrease in older citizens seems to be due to the lack of higher ranking and paying jobs in their field.”

Residents get their experience in Wyoming where there are opportunities to learn at a low tuition rate and to land an entry-level job. They then take that information elsewhere in order to climb the financial ladder.

“Based on the Hathaway (scholarship,) we try to determine how to keep them past college years and past the experience stages,” Glover said, “We hope to keep people here once they have experience in their field.”