CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming lost 25,000 workers between 2014 and 2016 amid an energy industry downturn, but it has showed signs of recovery in recent months.

The lost jobs equaled more than 10 percent of total monthly employment at the end of 2016, The Casper Star-Tribune reported on Sunday (

“Everybody wants to know if we are done with the recession in this state,” said Tom Gallagher, manager of the Research and Planning Division of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. “We don’t know.”

At the end of 2016, 112,000 people had disappeared from Wyoming’s workforce after the price of crude dropped, coal companies laid off miners and natural gas prices stagnated.

Fewer than 88,000 workers came in. The average monthly employment at the end of 2016 was 267,000 people.

The loss of workers is similar to the evaporation of jobs during the coal-bed methane bust, the most recent swift downturn in Wyoming’s economy, when the state had a net loss of about 30,000 workers between 2008 and 2010.

But that bust came at a time when there was a nationwide recession. This time, with the economies of other states still bustling, there’s less incentive for workers try to stick it out until things improve or to come back to Wyoming if they’ve left seeking employment elsewhere

The state’s labor market is in “recovery mode,” and the job gap has shrunk since last year, said Jim Robinson of the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division.

Jobless claims in the mining sector, which includes oil and gas, are down by 80 percent compared with May of last year.

The coal industry alone lost 1,000 jobs from 2014 to 2016, according to the Wyoming Mining Association. Only about 300 people have since returned.

The oil and gas industry is up by 1,700 jobs compared with a year ago.

Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune,