Montana’s unemployment rate at 4.1 percent

  Helena – Montana’s unemployment rate rose slightly in August to 4.1 percent, an increase of 0.1 percentage points. The U.S. unemployment rate edged down to 5.1 percent, a 0.2 percentage point decline.

   “Montana’s economy continues to show strength after a rapid expansion early in the year,” Governor Steve Bullock said. “Job growth continues to be well above average, with 10,700 more jobs than this time last year.”

   Fallon County had the lowest August unemployment rate at 1.5 percent. This was a -0.2 percent change from the same period in 2014. During August, 2,207 people were employed in Fallon County, up 35 from August 2014. Fallon County also held the lowest Montana unemployment rate in July.

   The Montana county with the highest August unemployment rate was Lincoln County at 8.7 percent. This was a -0.4 percent change from August 2014. August employment was 7,575 people, up 30 from 2014. Lincoln was also the county with the highest unemployment rate during July.

   “With the unemployment rate around four percent, workers should expect to see wages grow,” said Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy. “Our workforce education and training systems continue their efforts to provide qualified, hard-working employees for Montana’s economy.”

   Both total employment and payroll employment levels showed little change over the month. Payroll employment added 700 jobs over the month, with the strongest job gains within the Leisure and Hospitality industry. Total employment estimates, which include agricultural and self-employed workers along with payroll workers, indicate a statistically insignificant loss of 568 jobs. Employment growth during 2015 remains quite strong, with a 2.2 percent increase in employment over the last year compared to the long-term average of about one percent. The labor force expanded slightly by 46 workers over the month.

   The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) declined 0.1 percent in August on a seasonally adjusted basis due to a sharp decline in gasoline prices. The CPI-U has increased 0.2 percent over the year. The over-the-year increase in August CPI-U is important in Montana because it is the metric used to adjust Montana’s minimum wage for inflation each year. The index for all items less food and energy (also called core inflation) rose 0.1 percent in August, stemming from increases in housing costs.