Missoula County, statewide unemployment edges down

Construction crews work on the new AMC theater near Southgate Mall in Missoula. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

By Missoula Current

Montana’s unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in January while payroll employment gained nearly 3,000 new jobs, according to figures released Monday by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

The unemployment rate in Missoula County also dropped to 4.4 percent. The rate was 6 percent in Ravalli County, 6.7 percent in Flathead County, 9.3 percent in Mineral County and 9.5 percent in Sanders County.

“Our economy is strong and our unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in nearly a decade,” Gov. Steve Bullock said. “I’m hopeful the Legislature will support this job growth by investing in our workers, education and infrastructure.”

According to the statewide figures, payroll employment in Montana increased by 2,700 jobs over the month. Private industry added 3,100 overall jobs while the public sector lost 400 jobs.

Total employment levels, which include self-employed and agricultural workers, indicated a statistically insignificant decline of 536 jobs over the month. Since January of last year, Montana has added over 4,500 jobs, the data suggests.

“Montana’s economy is off to a hot start in 2017, adding 2,700 jobs,” said Pam Bucy, commissioner of the Labor and Industry Department. “With the unemployment rate at this level, there are opportunities for workers to find jobs across a broad spectrum of industries.”

On a broader scale, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.6 percent in January, marking the largest inflationary increase since February 2013. Sharp increases in the price of gasoline was the primary cause for the increase.