Flathead Jobless Rate Declines Slightly in February

By Beacon Staff

Bucking typical annual trends for the “shoulder season,” Flathead County’s unemployment rate decreased slightly to 13.2 percent in February, according to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

Unemployment in Flathead County hit a record-breaking 14.1 percent in January, surpassing the previous non-seasonally adjusted high mark of 13.8 percent in March 2010. That unemployment declined slightly in February this year serves as a hopeful sign that the jobless rate could be on a downward trend heading into the summer. Flathead County’s unemployment rate in February 2010 was 13.3 percent.

Northwest Montana, however, continues to lead the state in unemployment, with Lincoln County topping the list at 19.1 percent, Sanders County at 18.7 percent and Lake County at 12.7 percent. Ongoing natural resource development in eastern Montana has unemployment rates low, with McCone County at 2.9 percent and nearby Fallon County at 3 percent.

At a state level, Montana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February decreased slightly to 7.4 percent, down from 7.5 percent in January. Labor Commissioner Keith Kelly said increases in private employment continue, while the government sector continues to show job losses.

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

Nationally, the unemployment followed the same trend, dropping slightly from 9 percent to 8.9 percent in February.

Flathead unemployment rates by month:

February 2011: 13.2 %
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%

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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