Flathead County Unemployment Rate Hits Five-Year Low

By Beacon Staff

Boosted by summer seasonal jobs, Flathead County’s unemployment rate dropped slightly last month to a five-year low, according to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

The non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the Flathead dropped one tenth of a percent last month from 6.1 percent to 6 percent, the state labor department announced today. The local rate reached the lowest mark since September 2008, when non-seasonally adjusted unemployment was 5 percent.

Among a local labor force of 45,425 people, there were 2,741 residents listed as unemployed in August.

Montana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 5.3 percent, the same as July and remaining on par with December 2008.

Commissioner Pam Bucy says Montana had 3,200 more jobs last month than in August 2012, when the state unemployment rate was 6 percent.

Total employment estimates, which include payroll employment and the self-employed, slipped by 650 jobs in August, but it was matched by a 720-person decline in the labor force, keeping the unemployment rate steady.

Big Horn County has the state’s highest unemployment rate at 14.3 percent. Lincoln County is next at 12.1 percent. Sanders County is third at 10.2 percent.

The national unemployment rate declined by 0.1 percentage points to 7.3 percent in August.

Inflation levels remain low, according to the state labor department. The Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) increased by 0.1 percent in August, led by increases in the prices for shelter and medical care. The energy index declined 0.3 percent. Core inflation, measured by the all items less food and energy index, rose by 0.1 percent.

Flathead County unemployment rates by month:
August 2013: 6%
July 2013: 6.1%
June 2013: 7%
May 2013: 7%
April 2013: 8.4%
March 2013: 9.4%
February 2013: 9.8%
January 2013: 10.6%
December 2012: 9.1%
November 2012: 9%
October 2012: 8.3%
September 2012: 7.4%
August 2012: 7.9%

Employers Cut Jobs in 20 U.S. States in August
Associated Press
Employers cut jobs in 20 states last month, suggesting modest improvement in the U.S. job market this year is not enough to benefit all areas of the country.

The Labor Department said Friday that 29 states added jobs, while Montana showed no net gain or loss in August. Unemployment rates rose in 18 states, fell in 17 and were unchanged in 15.

“The picture is decidedly mixed,” said Jim Diffley, chief US regional economist at IHS Global Insight. “We’re still optimistic about the improvement (in hiring), but it’s been slow.”

Nationally, the economy added 169,000 jobs in August, a modest gain but hardly enough to suggest a robust job market. The U.S. unemployment rate was 7.3 percent.

The tepid hiring gains mean that most states still have fewer jobs than they did when the recession began in December 2007. IHS Global Insight forecasts that only 18 states will have returned to their pre-recession job levels by the end of this year.

Overall, the United States still has 1.9 million fewer jobs than before the recession. Hiring has averaged just 155,000 a month since April. That’s down from an average of 205,000 in the first four months.

Nevada’s payrolls rose 11,200. Still, its unemployment rate remained 9.5 percent, the highest in the nation.

Louisiana added 14,000 jobs. Its unemployment rate was also unchanged, at 7 percent.

Illinois had the second-highest unemployment rate at 9.2 percent. North Dakota reported the lowest rate, at 3 percent.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.