Montana Unemployment Rate Lowest Since 2007

Flathead County's non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped from 7.5 percent to 6.8 percent in March

By Beacon Staff

More than 8,800 jobs were added in the first quarter of 2015 in Montana and the unemployment rate dropped slightly last month to 4.1 percent, according to the state’s Department of Labor and Industry.

Montana’s unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percentage points in March. The unemployment rate has not been this low since October 2007 and currently ranks 11th lowest in the nation, tied with Wyoming and Hawaii.

Montana’s total employment levels surged up by 2,725 jobs in March, for a total of 8,873 jobs added in the first quarter of 2015. Total employment estimates include payroll employment, plus agricultural and self-employed workers.

Payroll employment estimates indicate a loss of 500 jobs over the month, but indicated strong job gains and continue to show strong upwards job increases over the last quarter, according to state labor officials.

“Montana’s economy is off to a strong start in 2015, with nearly 9,000 jobs added in the first quarter,” Gov. Steve Bullock said. “Montana businesses and workers are on the right track to building a stronger economy, and I’m committed to building on this success for our state.”

Flathead County’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped from 7.5 percent to 6.8 percent in March.

Lincoln County’s rate fell from 13.6 percent to 12.1 percent, still the highest in the state.

Glacier County’s rate dropped from 11.6 percent to 10.5 percent, the second highest in Montana.

Sanders County’s jobless rate fell from 11.1 percent to 10 percent.

Lake County’s rate improved from 6 percent to 5.6 percent.

Fallon County had the best rate in the state, 2.4 percent.

“We are expecting strong wage growth in 2015 as Montana businesses increase wages to recruit workers in this low unemployment environment,” said Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy. “The Montana Department of Labor and Industry is continuing our work to reach out to under-utilized workers, recruit them into the labor market, and ensure that our workers are meeting the needs of Montana employers.”

The U.S. unemployment rate was flat over the month at 5.5 percent in March.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2 percent in March, with increases in energy prices offset by declines in food prices.  Over the last 12 months, the CPI-U has declined 0.1 percent, largely due to lower energy prices compared to last year.

Prices for both airline fares and groceries declined in March, suggesting that producers of energy-dependent goods are passing on the savings from lower fuel and transportation input costs to consumers. The index for all items less food and energy, also called core inflation, rose 0.2 percent in March.

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