Montana’s Unemployment Rate Up Slightly to 4.1 Percent

Flathead County has 754 more jobs than a year ago

By Associated Press & Beacon Staff

Montana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly, to 4.1 percent in August.

The Labor Department says that’s an increase of 0.1 percentage points from July’s figure. Nationally, the unemployment rate fell from 5.3 percent in July to 5.1 percent in August. The jobless rates fell in 29 states last month amid widespread employment gains while falling oil and coal prices continued to take a toll on energy-producing states.

The employment rate in Flathead County was 4.8 percent last month. There are 754 more jobs in the county than a year ago, according to the statewide economic stats.

Lincoln County’s rate was highest in the state, 8.7 percent, followed by Glacier County (8 percent) and Sanders County (7.5 percent). Lake County’s rate was 5.1 percent. Lincoln County has 30 more jobs than a year ago; Glacier County has 61 fewer jobs; Sanders has 21 fewer and Lake has 49 more.

Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy says with the unemployment rate holding at around 4 percent, workers should see wages increase. Gov. Steve Bullock notes Montana has 10,700 more jobs than it did at this time a year ago.

Payroll employment added 700 jobs over the month, with most in the leisure and hospitality industry. Total employment estimates — which include agricultural and self-employed workers — showed a loss of 568 jobs.

The Consumer Price Index decreased 0.1 percentage point, reflecting the drop in gas prices.

The Labor Department said Friday that rates rose in the remaining 10 states. Employers added jobs in 32 states and shed them in 18.

Oil prices that are sharply lower than a year ago contributed to job losses and higher unemployment in several states, including Alaska, North Dakota, and Texas. And falling demand for coal has devastated West Virginia, which has the nation’s highest unemployment rate at 7.6 percent. That is up from 7.5 percent in July.

South Dakota reported the largest percentage loss of jobs last month. Texas, meanwhile, shed 13,700 positions, the most of any state except New York, which lost the same amount.

Nationwide, employers added 173,000 jobs in August.

The state unemployment report comes a day after the Federal Reserve decided against raising short-term interest rates, citing threats to the U.S. economy from weak growth in China and the persistence of very low inflation.

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