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Economic Analysis Division records surge in older Campbell County, Wyoming workers

WYDOT maintenance crew paving a portion of I-90 west of Sheridan. (WYDOT)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Economic Analysis Division says there are more older workers now than ever with the number of workers over 65 quadrupling in Campbell and Lincoln counties in the last 20 years.

Between 2002 and 2022, federal workforce data showed a statewide increase in workers over 65 and a decrease among young to mid-career workers from 14 to 54, per the EAD. In that span, workers over 65 increased by 205%, young workers between 14 and 24 decreased by 10%, and mid-career workers between 45 and 54 declined by 9%. 

In Campbell County, the number of workers 65 and older climbed from 356 in 2002 to 1,426 in 2022, a 300% increase, the EAD says, adding that the same worker age group went from 141 to 562, a 299% increase, in Lincoln County in the same period.

According to the EAD, the dramatic increase in older workers is greatly driven by the growth of the 55 and older population with all workers born between 1946 and 1964, the Baby Boomers, reaching the threshold as of 2022. 

Wyoming Chief Economist Dr. Wenlin Liu says the state has one of the highest proportions of Baby Boomers in the country, adding that since the first boomer turned 65 in 2011 there has been a rapid increase in the size of older populations. As of 2022, more than one in five Wyomingites 65 and older are employed or looking for work, compared to the 15% recorded in 2000. 

While the number of older workers surged remarkably in the last 20 years, so has their earning capacity, with the growth rate for monthly earnings climbing higher than any other age group, the EAD says. This growth has reduced the monthly wage gap between older employees and other Wyoming workers from around $843 in 2002 to $758 in 2022. 

“Older workers have been delaying retirement, and/or increasingly working full time or working longer hours,” Liu said, which results in a larger contribution to the state’s labor force. In 2023, this age group had a nearly $1 billion disbursement, accounting for a little over 6% of all wages paid by Wyoming employers. The EAD predicts the importance of older workers in the labor force will continue to intensify in the coming years. 

“The population age 65 and older in Wyoming is expected to expand by 20.4% from 2022 to 2030, while the number of total residents is projected to increase only 2.4% during that period,” Liu said.