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Study: Tenth of county’s workers are commuters

Hundreds of workers commuting between Park, Big Horn counties

About one out of every 10 workers in Park County doesn’t live here — they commute from neighboring Big Horn County, southern Montana or someplace else, according to recently publicized figures. Meanwhile, around 7 percent of working folks who live in Park County must cross county or state lines to get to their workplace.

The Wyoming Division of Economic Analysis announced “county-to-county commuting flow” estimates on Nov. 21. The estimates are based on survey data collected between 2006 and 2010 by the U.S. Census Bureau. The estimates say Park County had an average of around 14,602 workers in that time frame. That’s up 17.3 percent from an estimated 12,444 workers when the same surveys were conducted between 1996 to 2000.

The new figures say more people come to Park County from someplace else for work (about 1,475 workers) than those who live here and work in another county or state (not quite 1,000 workers). The overwhelming majority of people who work in Park County — around 89.9 percent — live here, too.

Those figures are similar to Wyoming as a whole.

The state is estimated to have had an average of 287,341 workers in the most recent five-year period, up about 20 percent from the estimated 239,544 workers a decade earlier.

Some 6,137 Wyomingites are believed to commute to job sites outside the state, with about twice as many — 13,541 workers, or 4.7 percent of those employed here — living in another state and commuting to Wyoming.

“Commuting plays an important role in the interchange of people, goods, and services across places,” said Wyoming Division of Economic Analysis Principal Economist Wenlin Lui in a prepared statement. “Information about commuting activity between two specific counties provides a gauge of their economic connection.”

If the data is any indication, Park County has the strongest connections with its eastern neighbor, Big Horn County. An estimated 925 workers were commuting between the two counties when the Census Bureau conducted its surveys.

The estimates say 558 Big Horn County residents were employed in Park County, representing about 3.8 percent of the workforce here. Meanwhile, 366 Park County residents had jobs in Big Horn County, making up about 7.7 percent of that county’s workforce. The data shows the Park County workers who aren’t employed here or in Big Horn County are generally working someplace else in Wyoming or Montana.

A significant chunk of jobs in Park County are apparently held by Park County, Mont., residents. The Census Bureau figures 346 residents from the “other” Park County were employed here, occupying about 2.4 percent of local jobs on average.

Survey responses indicated residents living in a wide variety of other places have jobs in this Park County, with commuters coming from other parts of Wyoming and Montana, and even California and Florida. However, they represent less than 4 percent of local workers.

Liu said information about the relationship between workers’ residences and workplaces can give insight into housing demand and labor force availability, economic development and transportation planning. 

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