May 2016 Economic Situation Report
HELENA, MT – Montana’s unemployment rate remained steady over the month of May at 4.2 percent. The U.S. unemployment declined by 0.3 percentage points to 4.7 percent.
“Montana’s workers continue to realize strong real wage gains, providing opportunities for our workforce and businesses to thrive,” said Montana Department of Labor & Industry Commissioner Pam Bucy. “Last year average annual wages were at the highest levels in our state’s history. Montanans are reaping the gains of our strong and growing economy.”
The Department of Labor released final data for employment and wage growth for 2015, indicating a strong employment growth of 2.1 percent over the prior year. Wage gains were also impressive, with an increase of 3 percent in the average annual wage. Montana’s average annual wage was $40,075 in 2015. Real wages increased by 2.9 percent, meaning that the growth in wages was much faster than the growth in the price of goods and services, suggesting increased living standards for Montana’s workers and their families.
Specifically for the month of May, Montana’s unemployment rate did not change from the previous month, with little change to the level of unemployed and total employment. Payroll employment estimates posted a 2,700 job loss, but this loss appears to be driven by a longer ski season than usual interacting with the seasonal adjustment in the statistical model for the estimates. The Arts and Entertainment industry, which includes ski resorts, posted a large gain last month, followed by an equal loss of 1,500 jobs this month, which would be consistent with large ski resorts maintaining their seasonal employees for a few weeks longer than usual. The remaining job losses were focused in the Government sector, indicating 600 fewer government jobs in May compared to April.
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose by 0.2 percent in May. Food prices declined, but the energy index increased by 1.2 percent, led by an increase in gasoline prices. Core inflation, measured by the all items less food and energy index, rose 0.2 percent over the month.
** Statewide 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 & Industry’s Research and Analysis Bureau at 1-800-541-3904.
The next Labor Situation Report for the month of June 2016 will be released on Friday, July 22.