- Associated Press - Thursday, January 2, 2020

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming’s population increased slightly in the second half of 2018 and first half of 2019 after three years of decline.

Census figures released Monday show Wyoming’s population grew by 1,158 between July 2018 and July 2019.

The state’s total population of 578,880 remained below a peak of 586,000 in 2015.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports the latest numbers were recorded before a coal company’s bankruptcy in 2019 furloughed hundreds of workers at two major coal mines for four months.

Hard times in the coal, oil and natural gas industries caused many people to leave Wyoming starting in 2015.

State economist Wenlin Liu says growth in the energy and construction industries accounted for Wyoming’s recent population increase.

Liu says Wyoming’s that recovery now shows signs of slowing, with recent lower job growth and rising unemployment.

Wyoming remains the least-populated state in the U.S.

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