Montana unemployment rate hits 11.3% in April; 18,000 workers back on the job

Montana’s unemployment rate shot up in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, ending the month at 11.3%.

Before the pandemic hit, the state’s unemployment rate was closer to 4%.

“While we are not immune to the significant economic challenges facing the nation, we are working every day to safely reopen and ensure Montana stays on a path to long-term economic recovery,” Gov. Steve Bullock said in a statement.

Montana’s unemployment rate for the month of April was captured on April 12 when the stay-at-home order was in place. Total employment, which includes agricultural, payroll and self-employed workers, decreased by nearly 56,000 jobs in April.

But the stay-at-home order has been lifted and an estimated 18,000 Montana workers have returned to their job.

“There is still a lot of work to do, and we are dedicated to maintaining a healthy workforce, while continuing to provide immediate economic relief for Montana families and businesses who are hurting,” Bullock said.

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry has issued $376 million in unemployment benefits since March 16. The agency has provided the unemployed an extra $600 a week in benefits.

Leisure activities, which includes hotels, restaurants, movie theaters and other entertainment and recreation businesses, was the hardest hit, with losses approaching nearly half of their total employment and exceeding 32,000 jobs.

All industries posted losses except the federal government, according to the state.