Montana Unemployment Rate Rises to 5.4 Percent

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Montana’s unemployment rate rose to 5.4 percent in December, up from 4.9 percent in November.

The state Department of Labor says it’s the first time since January 2000 that the state’s unemployment rate has been above 5 percent. The department also notes the state’s jobless rate is far below the national average of 7.2 percent.

Labor Commissioner Keith Kelly says the recession is reducing demand for Montana’s goods and putting people out of work.

Kelly says the leisure and hospitality industry added 1,100 jobs, but losses in other industries outweighed those gains.

The seasonally-adjusted consumer price index decreased by 1 percent for December. Deflation was led by an 8.3 percent decrease in energy prices.