Montana unemployment steady at 4.2 percent

Missoula Current

Montana’s unemployment rate remained steady at 4.2 percent for the month of July, according to figures released Friday by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

The national unemployment rate also remained at 4.9 percent for the month.

According to Pam Bucy, commissioner of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, total employment remained above 501,000 in July while payroll employment dropped by 0.2 percent over the month.

Employment data for the first quarter of 2016 suggests payroll employment has grown by 1.8 percent over the last 12 months.

“This growth has been driven by the accommodation and food services, healthcare, and retail trade industries, which have all added over 1,400 jobs in the last year, offsetting employment losses in the mining industry,” Bucy said. “Montana has added over 7,700 jobs for the year ending in the first quarter of 2016.”

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) remained unchanged in July. Over the last 12 months, the CPI-U rose 0.8 percent before seasonal adjustment.

Increases in the price of transportation, shelter and medical care have been offset by decreases in energy prices, Bucy said. The energy index decreased over the month, led by a decrease of 4.7 percent in gasoline prices.

Core inflation rose 0.1 percent over the month.

Bucy said the Montana figures suggest a healthy state economy.

“Montana continues to have low unemployment levels and strong job growth,” said Bucy. “Much of the recent growth in Montana’s employment has stemmed from the more populated regions and has been driven by consumer-based industries.”