Unemployment Rate Drop

March 14, 2012 by staff 

Unemployment Rate Drop, Unemployment in Montana and the Helena area continued to drop in January, according to numbers released Tuesday. Montana’s overall unemployment rate was 6.5 percent in January, down 0.1 percentage points from the same month a year earlier. It was the sixth consecutive month of decreased unemployment. The state rate remains below the U.S. rate, which was 8.3 percent in January.

“Montana’s economy continues to improve with stronger and more deliberate job growth,” said Keith Kelly, the state labor commissioner, in a news release. “We continue to have a positive outlook for 2012.”

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry reported that there are likely about 800 jobs across the state, compared to the same period last year.

Barbara Wagner, senior economist with the department’s Research and Analysis Bureau, noted that the state rate has dropped 0.5 percentage points in the last six months.

“That’s a pretty major drop in the unemployment rate, actually,” Wagner said. “It’s driven mostly by job growth and that’s good news.”

She said oil and gas activity in eastern Montana is helping create jobs, while there also appears to be a “return to growth” in the Bozeman area, a region that has played a significant role in the state economy in recent years.

In addition, she said “it appears we have stopped losing jobs in northwest Montana. A lot of people live in that area, so that has a big impact.”

In terms of commercial and residential construction, there are no clear signs of renewed activity or hiring, Wagner noted.

“But the job losses have slowed,” she said.

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