15 States Americans Are Ditching: What’s the Matter With Wyoming?
Life + Money

15 States Americans Are Ditching: What’s the Matter With Wyoming?

Flickr / Matthew Paulson

More people wanted to get out of Wyoming than wanted to get into the state in 2016.

Almost two-thirds of all household relocations in Wyoming last year were outbound rather than inbound, according to an analysis from Atlas Van Lines. That ranked as the highest outbound percentage among all U.S. states last year, and marked the fifth straight year that Wyoming had a significant percentage of moving-out residents.

So what’s the matter with Wyoming? It’s twofold.

Over the last year, the state has shed 6,500 jobs. Its unemployment rate is at 4.9 percent, which is higher than the U.S. average and is up from a year ago. Since the end of the Great Recession, Wyoming’s gross domestic product has shrunk by 1.4 percent annually. From the second quarter of 2015 to the second quarter of 2016, its GDP shrank 6.6 percent.

Related: Slideshow: The 15 States Americans Are Ditching

The state’s misfortunes are largely tied to its reliance on energy. Wyoming leads the nation in producing coal and uranium, is the No. 4 producer of natural gas and No. 8 in crude oil. The recent downturn in energy prices has hurt the state’s tax rolls and the state government has had to make steep cuts in funding for public programs.

Wyoming also suffers from a small population — the smallest, in fact — which makes it less attractive for business. Economic growth nationwide has been increasingly occurring in metropolitan areas, something that Wyoming lacks, according to a Bloomberg report. A local newspaper recently reported how Cheyenne, the capital and largest city in the state, was unable to lure an unnamed company, simply because the city lacks the workforce the business needed.

“It comes down to a sheer numbers factor,” Anja Bendel, director of business development for Cheyenne LEADS, a non-profit helping companies move to Wyoming, told the Casper Star Tribune. “When you look at what our unemployment rate is and you figure out how many people that means, you’re just talking about 2,000 people in the greater Cheyenne community that are actively seeking work.”

Related: Slideshow: The 9 States (and One District) Americans Are Flocking To

Wyoming isn’t the only state seeing more people moving out than in. Fifteen states had outbound migration patterns, including New York, which has suffered such outflows for more than 14 years. Atlas tallied the number of moves in a state and if the outbound moves represented 55 percent or more of the total, the state’s migration pattern was considered outbound.

Overall, the number of all moves in the U.S. fell almost 3 percent from 2015. Click here to find out which states Americans are moving to and from.