Flathead’s Jobless Rate Hits Record 14.1 Percent

By Beacon Staff

Flathead County’s unemployment rate hit a record-breaking 14.1 percent in January, eclipsing the previous high mark set in March 2010, when the non-seasonally adjusted rate stood at 13.8 percent, according to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

The county’s jobless rate has been inching upward for four straight months, but jumped two full points from December. Flathead has the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the state, behind three other Northwest Montana counties, led by Sanders with 20.3 percent.

In previous years, the number of unemployed in the county continued to rise into late winter, so the jobless rate will likely get higher still over the next two months.

At the state level, Montana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly to 7.5 percent in January. Labor Commissioner Keith Kelly says as the private sector adds jobs, more Montanans are returning to the labor force, causing the unemployment rate to rise from 7.4 percent in December. The labor force includes people who are working or looking for work.

The agency said Thursday that the private sector is adding jobs in the trades and leisure and hospitality industries, while there are small losses in the government sector.

Here are the jobless rates for every Montana county (.pdf).

Nationally, the unemployment rate fell from 9.4 percent in December to 9 percent in January.

Flathead unemployment rates by month:

January 2011: 14.1%
December 2010: 12.1%
November 2010: 11.8%
October 2010: 10.8%
September 2010: 9.8%
August 2010: 10.2%
July 2010: 10.8%
June 2010: 11.4%
May 2010: 11.5%
April 2010: 12.2%
March 2010: 13.8%
February 2010: 13.3%
January 2010: 13.2%

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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