Montana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent in May, down 0.1 percentage point from April, according to the state’s Department of Labor and Industry.
Flathead County’s non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate continued to fall from 6.8 percent in April to 4.7 percent in May. The county has added 713 jobs in the last 12 months. Lincoln County dropped drastically from 12.1 percent to 7.8 percent. Glacier County’s rate went from 10.5 percent in April to 8 percent in May, ranking highest in the state. Lake County’s rate hit 3.9 percent last month, an improvement from 5.6 percent.
Montana’s employment levels have surpassed the 500,000 mark for the first time, according to state economists. Roughly 62 percent of the state’s population over 16 is employed, according to Barbara Wagner, chief economist with the state.
Montana’s unemployment rate ranks as the ninth lowest in the U.S. along with Idaho.
New economic data also show that the state’s average wages increased by 3.5 percent in 2014, hitting $38,875. The national average is $47,230.
“Montana added roughly 1,500 more jobs last month,” Gov. Steve Bullock said. “Our strong growth and low unemployment are driving up wages, meaning more Montanans are working and putting more money in their pockets on payday.”
Montana’s total employment levels continued to grow, increasing by 1,469 jobs in May, for a total of 11,989 jobs added over the last 12 months and total employment of 504,195. Total employment estimates include payroll employment, plus agricultural and self-employed workers. Payroll employment did not increase over the month, but posted a larger than average gain of 1,900 jobs in April, according to state stats.
“Strong employment growth in the first five months of 2015 has pushed Montana’s employment level to more than half a million jobs,” said Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy. “The Montana Department of Labor and Industry is committed to identifying and training more Montana workers to increase this number even further.”
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.4 percent in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, mostly due to a spike in gasoline prices. The index for all items less food and energy, also called core inflation, rose 0.1 percent in May.