New Wyoming unemployment claims spike 359 percent - Casper, WY Oil City News
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New Wyoming unemployment claims spike 359 percent

Second Street through downtown Casper is seen on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. – The latest unemployment insurance claims from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services show the immediate effect of the coronavirus pandemic on Wyoming’s workforce.

According to Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, first-time claims went from 510 to 2,339 in the span of one week.

The jump is a snapshot in time when businesses, schools and public spaces started closing almost immediately after Wyoming’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Sheridan County was announced on March 11.

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The first-time claims in Natrona County during that same week go from 55 to 284.

Wyoming Department of Workforce Services communications manager Ty Stockton says he expects the numbers to increase before leveling off.

Stockton says the unemployment claims numbers aren’t linked to Wyoming’s official unemployment rate, which is calculated using statistical samples.

While the increase in unemployment claims is considerable, Stockton says there are still around 300,000 people working in the state.

The sudden spike in claims has put stress on the department’s phone system, leading to wait times of up to three-hours.

Stockton says more resources have been moved to work on unemployment claims, including phone operators. The department is also upgrading its system to handle more calls at once, he said.

Even still, he recommends filing over the department’s website.

“There are a lot of people who are hurting right now so we’re trying to do everything we can to help them have a little security,” he said.

The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:

What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email:

  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.