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February 2017 Economic Situation Report

Governor Bullock Announces Montana’s Unemployment Rate Continues to Decline


Friday, March 24, 2017

Ronja Abel, Communications Director, Governor’s Office, (406) 444-9725

Marissa Perry, Press Secretary, Governor’s Office, (406) 444-4514

Barbara Wagner, Chief Economist, Department of Labor & Industry, (406) 444-5474

Governor Bullock Announces Montana’s Unemployment Rate Continues to Decline

MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock today announced Montana’s unemployment rate continued its downward movement in February, declining 0.1 percentage point to 3.8%. The U.S. unemployment rate also declined by 0.1 percentage points to 4.7% in February.

"Montana’s economy is off to a hot start in 2017, with thousands of new jobs added just last month," said Governor Bullock. "More Montanans are at work than ever before in our state’s history and Montana businesses are creating good-paying jobs being filled by our friends, families, and neighbors."

Payroll employment in Montana increased by 3,000 jobs over the month, with the private sector adding 2,800 jobs. The construction, retail trade, and leisure activities industries also posted sizeable job gains.

Benchmark data for Montana’s counties, reservations, and sub-state areas is now available.  Every year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics re-estimates employment and unemployment levels over the past year to improve the accuracy of the statistics. The revised estimates indicate the Southwest Region of Montana (including Bozeman, Butte, and Helena) had the fastest growth in 2016, adding roughly 3,900 jobs over the year for 2.7% growth.  Northwest Montana (including Kalispell and Missoula) added roughly 3,300, posting strong growth of 2.3%.  The central regions of the state had modest gains over the year, with Eastern Montana experiencing job losses over the year. The rate of job loss in Eastern Montana appears to be slowing in recent months.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.1% in February, a welcomed slowdown after a sharp increase in gasoline prices last month.  Gasoline prices have moderated in February, declining by 3%. The index for all items less food and energy, also called core inflation, rose 0.2% in February.

** Unemployment figures are seasonally-adjusted.  Seasonally-adjusted numbers remove the effects of events that follow a more or less regular month-to-month pattern each year. These adjustments make nonseasonal patterns easier to identify. The margin of error for the unemployment rate is plus or minus 0.5 percentage points at the 90 percent confidence level. All questions relating to the calculation of unemployment rates should be directed to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry’s Research and Analysis Bureau at 1-800-541-3904.

The next Labor Situation Report for the month of March 2017 will be released on Friday, April 21, 2017.

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