MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock today announced that Montana’s unemployment rate ticked up to 3.8% for the month of January, up 0.1 percentage points from December, likely reflecting impacts from the federal government shutdown. The national unemployment rate also increased by a tenth of a percentage point up to 4.0%.
“It’s clear that the federal government shutdown negatively impacted our economic growth and the federal workers who had to go without their paychecks,” said Governor Bullock. “Despite this, we continue to add jobs to our economy, and we will continue to ensure businesses can find skilled and trained workers and Montanans can access the good jobs needed to climb the ladder of opportunity.”
Total employment, which includes payroll, agricultural, and self-employed workers, indicated a small increase of 229 jobs in January. Payroll employment indicates a small decline in employment, with declines in federal government and professional and business services. The low changes in employment levels likely reflect decreased economic activity during the January federal government shutdown.
In addition, the Department of Labor & Industry has released revised and updated statewide unemployment and employment growth numbers for the previous five years. Unemployment rate and employment estimates are revised each year in February in a process called benchmarking, which typically results in more accurate estimates and a smoother data series. Updated estimates suggest employment growth of 0.8% for 2018, or roughly 4,250 jobs. This employment growth rate is slightly slower than in previous years, but paired with continued output growth, simply reinforces that Montana businesses are struggling to find sufficient workers to support growth. Montana’s preliminary GDP estimates suggest growth faster than the U.S. during 2018.
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) was unchanged in January, with a decline in the energy index offsetting increases in other items. Gasoline prices decreased by 5.5% over the month. The index for all items less food and energy, also called core inflation, increased 0.2% in January.
Visit our website at www.lmi.mt.gov for additional information and analysis, including industry employment levels, background on the unemployment rate, and wage rates by occupation.