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An update on Montana's unemployment data

Posted at 4:55 PM, Sep 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-27 13:53:39-04

HELENA — In August, Montana hit 22 consecutive months of the unemployment rate being below 3%.

“Since the 1970s we’ve only been under 3% for 25 months, 22 of those have been the last 22 consecutive months,” said Sarah Swanson, the Commissioner for the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

Since January of 2021, more than 40,000 jobs have been created in the state, dropping the number of unemployed people to around 13,000.

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“There’s actually three open jobs right now for every unemployed person in Montana at the moment,” Swanson said.

Every month of 2023 employment has continued to grow in Montana, leading to record high of over 563,000 workers in August.

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The top industries creating jobs in Montana are leisure activities, business services and construction.

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“We know that we have more folks employed in the construction industry than any time before,” said Swanson, “It’s a lot of our skilled trades and it’s a lot of our health care workforce are absolutely increasing.”

Lower unemployment does mean that there are fewer available workers as the holiday season starts to take shape.

Montana depends a lot on seasonal labor, from the more typical holiday shopping retail help to the jobs that support Montana’s ski resorts.

“Those seasonal workers that work in construction and the tourism industry are very often available and looking for active work into the holiday season, so I think we’ll be able to meet our retail demands using those seasonal folks who are not actively in those professions going into the colder months,” Swanson said.

Looking ahead, the trend of unemployment seems to ensure that Montana can continue down this path.

“We have a seven-year trend of low unemployment in Montana, and I think it’s a symptom of our really healthy economy these last three years,” said Swanson.