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Wyoming seeks workers in budget-challenged states, including Wisconsin

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- The Wyoming Department of Corrections is targeting laid off workers in Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire and Virginia as it seeks to fill about 435 positions around the state.

Wyoming, which relies heavily on revenue from coal, natural gas and other minerals, is one of the few states that has escaped the national economic crisis.

While other states are cutting programs and imposing hiring freezes, the Wyoming Legislature is expected to find another budget surplus when lawmakers come to Cheyenne in January for the 40-day general legislative session.

The National Council of State Legislatures said the recent national economic problems make most states' fiscal situations precarious.

"This situation is as bad as I've ever seen it," said Bill Pound, NCSL executive director. "The states have been confronted with bad economic circumstances in the past, but not so many and not all at once. State budgets have a very rough road ahead."

General Motors is closing plants in Michigan and Wisconsin, New Hampshire is cutting back its budget and Virginia is closing prisons and laying off more than 300 corrections workers.

The Wyoming Department of Corrections is looking to fill 79 positions immediately and is building a new prison that will create 357 new jobs, said Brenda Reedy, recruiting manager for the Wyoming Department of Corrections. The new prison is scheduled to open next summer.

Other jobs are available in Wyoming, also.

The state is seeing a 17 percent increase in the number of applicants for state jobs this year compared to last year, said Dean Fausset, administrator of the state human resources division.

"We are seeing more applicants applying for jobs, but we still have jobs that are difficult to fill," Fausset said.

The hardest to fill are in the nursing field and highway jobs, the latter because of competition from the mineral industry.