Overall employment in Wyoming increased in July for the first time in 18 months, the state Department of Employment reported Tuesday.
Wyoming gained 1,000 jobs last month, the department announced. The state now ranks around the middle of states for job growth after previously ranking near the bottom.
Wyoming's unemployment rate in July was 6.7 percent, down from 6.8 percent in June. The nationwide unemployment rate held steady at 9.5 percent.
Wyoming senior economist David Bullard says almost every economic indicator in the state is improving. Natural resources and mining jobs gained 1,700 jobs, up 6.9 percent. Government gained 1,600 jobs, up 2.4 percent. However, the construction industry continued to struggle, losing 2,600 jobs.
The unemployment rates in 13 of Wyoming's 23 counties were lower in July than they were a year ago.
Sublette County posted the lowest unemployment rate last month at 3.9 percent, followed by Crook County at 4.8 percent. The highest rates were in Lincoln County with 8.1 percent and Fremont County at 7.5 percent.
Despite the improvement, Wenlin Liu, senior economist with the state Economic Analysis Division, said the state's recovery remains weak.
Liu said businesses in most sectors remain reluctant to hire new employees and consumer consumption is lackluster.
"Without more jobs, consumers will not feel secure enough to spend money, which further slows the recovery pace," Liu said.
Liu noted the U.S. recovery has been losing momentum. "Wyoming's economy could also be affected, particularly energy production and prices, from the weakened demand due to the national manufacturing slowdown," he said.