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Historically, it’s been relatively easy to obtain a decent paying job in Wyoming without any more schooling than a high school diploma.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 42 percent of all jobs in the state require only a high school diploma or equivalent — among the highest percentages in the country. And, with a median wage for those jobs of about $39,000, Wyoming workers with only high school diplomas have the highest earnings among that demographic, earning close to $4,000 more than the national median wage for those workers, thanks largely to the wealth of the fossil fuel industry.

Yet, for these opportunities, Wyoming’s available workforce is shrinking — down 0.2 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to the most recent numbers from the state. And in that time, the industry that provided those good jobs showed its volatility. The mineral extraction industry lost about a third of its total workforce during the bust; nearly 9,000 positions, Wenlin Liu, the chief economist for the Wyoming Division of Economic Analysis, told the Star-Tribune last year.

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Fast Fact Image

Upton is located 70 miles east of thirteen open pit coal mines, including the Thunder Basin Coal Mine, the nation's largest. You can arrange to have guided tours to learn more about this critical industry in northeast Wyoming. Upton and Newcastle are on the railroad right-of-way that ships most of the coal to midwestern and eastern markets. There is an average of 75 Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad trains that pass through Weston County daily. This is a train watchers heaven!