Unemployment Rate Drops
Montana’s unemployment rate dropped in February to 3.9%, after falling to 4.0% in January. The unemployment rate for the U.S. was 6.2% in February.
Yellowstone County is ranked 23rd among counties for the lowest unemployment rate at 4.4 percent, which is about .6 percent higher than a year ago. There are 76,274 people employed in the county which is 2400 less than last year.
McCone County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.3 percent which is -0.1 percent lower than last year, currently employing 954 people. Glacier County has the highest unemployment in the state at 10.2 percent, which is 1.7 percent higher than a year ago with 4,541 people employed.
Yellowstone County’s unemployment rate is higher than the 3.4 percent rate in Gallatin County. The rates in other urban counties are Lewis & Clark County, 4.5 percent, Cascade 4.8 percent, Missoula 5.2 percent, Silver Bow, 5.5 percent.
Nationally, Montana’s “bounced back” 8th best. South Dakota’s has bounced back the best and Hawaii’s the least best, according to wallethub.com.
“Montana’s unemployment rate continues its downward trend, but too many of our businesses are struggling to find workers,” Governor Greg Gianforte said. “Getting Montanans back to work in good-paying jobs and improving access to trades education and apprenticeships are top priorities as we get Montana open for business.”
Governor Gianforte has worked with the legislature to address the growing skilled labor shortage in Montana by creating the Montana Trades Education Credit (M-TEC). A central element of the governor’s Roadmap to the Montana Comeback budget, the bill, H.B. 252, provides $1 million per year in 50-percent credits to businesses for their employees to learn a trade. The funding level will support as many as 1,000 scholarships annually. Under the program, employers and employees can decide on training that is best for the business and the employee.
“Expanding trades education in Montana and empowering our workforce are critical. I look forward to this bill getting across the finish line and to my desk,” Governor Gianforte said.
Total employment in February fell by 965, and the labor force shrank by 1,521 workers. Total employment includes payroll, agricultural, and self-employed workers.
After updating January’s preliminary estimates, payroll employment was unchanged in February, remaining at 477,700 jobs. The manufacturing and accommodation and food services industries each added 500 jobs, which were offset by job losses in construction and financial activities.
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased by 0.4% in February, driven by increases in gasoline prices and a rising energy index. Over the last 12 months the CPI-U has increased 1.7%. The index for all items less food and energy, referred to as core inflation, increased 0.1% in February.