Montana unemployment rate falls to 2.5%; Missoula at 3%
(Missoula Current) Missoula's unemployment rate fell to 3% in January and added 1,800 jobs over the prior year, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry said Thursday.
Statewide, the unemployment rate declined to 2.5%, matching what the Governor's Office called a record low initially set in Gov. Greg Gianforte's second year in office.
Gianforte was quick to take credit for the latest figures.
“Hardworking Montanans continue to drive our state’s growing economy, despite severe national headwinds,” Gianforte said in a statement. “Montanans are setting new records for job creation, business creation, and employment.”
According to the Department of Labor and Industry, the state's unemployment rate as a whole has only dipped below 3% in 18 months since 1976, when such record-keeping began. Gianforte noted that 15 of those 18 months have been under his watch.
Total Montana employment in January reported nearly 556,000 jobs – an increase of more than 1,400 jobs. The construction industry lead the job gains, the state said.
“We'll keep building on our pro-business, pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda so more Montanans can thrive, prosper, and achieve the American dream,” Gianforte said.
The thriving job market isn't isolated to Montana. Total employment rose by more than 311,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate settled at 3.6%. Average hourly earnings increased $0.08 in February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Several western Montana counties continue to struggle with higher unemployment rates including Sanders and Lincoln counties at 6%, Mineral County at 5.6% and Granite County at 5.1%.
The unemployment rate in Flathead and Lake counties was 3.8% in January, and 3.5% in Ravalli County.