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More Montanans Working Than Ever in State History

Montana’s unemployment rate hit a new record low in December, dropping another 0.3 percentage points to end the year at 2.5%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The number of unemployed Montanans is at its lowest level since BLS began the data series in 1976.

“After just one year, our Montana Comeback Plan is working. Our unemployment rate is the lowest it’s ever been, and more Montanans are working than ever before in our state’s history,” Gov. Gianforte said. “With lower taxes and responsible, responsive government, our economy is going again, we’re open for business, and Montanans are back to work. Great work, Montana!”

The number of unemployed Montanans also dropped to a record low of 13,689, falling by 1,719 from November.

Montana’s total employment hit a record high in December at 531,040. Total employment, which includes payroll, agricultural, and self-employed workers, grew by 3,137 in December, the largest single month gain in 2021. Payroll employment also increased by 3,200 with strong job growth in retail.

The State of Montana has not only recovered all jobs lost since the start of the pandemic, but also grown beyond that level, with 531,040 Montanans employed in December 2021 compared to 521,657 in March 2020.

Since Governor Gianforte was sworn in, total employment has grown by 20,568 jobs.

Montana’s labor force increased to 544,729 in December, the third highest level in the state’s history. The number of available workers in Montana’s labor force, a critical metric during the current labor shortage, increased by 1,418.

The unemployment rate for the U.S. dropped to 3.9%.

The rate of inflation, with the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased by 0.5% in December. Over the last 12 months, inflation has surged 7.0%, a 40-year high. Energy prices are up 29.3%, with fuel oil up 41% and gasoline up 49.6%. Grocery prices are up 6.5%, including baby food up 7.9%. Prices for new cars and trucks are up 11.8%, used cars and trucks up 37.3%, and motor vehicle parts and equipment up 11.3%. The index for all items less food and energy, referred to as core inflation and an important metric for future inflation expectations, increased 0.6% in December.

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 non-seasonal patterns easier to identify. The margin of error for the unemployment rate is plus or minus 0.6 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 406-444-4100.

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