Posted: May 21, 2013 8:03 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: May 21, 2013 8:04 PM
HELENA - The Montana Department of Labor recently announced the state's unemployment rate dropped a tenth of percentage point to 5.5%.
Media outlets report the unemployment figures every month, but a closer look will shows that there are more Montanans who aren't working than the unemployment figures might indicate.
"All you have to do is drive around Helena during a work day and you see all this traffic and you realize how much of our population is actually not employed in a nine-to-five job," said Barb Wagner, senior economist with the MT Department of Labor & Industry.
The state's unemployment rate only measures those people who are out of job and actively looking for one. A look back at last year's labor force shows that 60% of Montanans are employed, and 6% of the population is classified as unemployed. That means 34% of the state is not working.
"They are retired, they are students, they are caregivers. They are doing a lot of other things other than working, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are interested in working and are unemployed," Wagner said.
But the numbers can seem deceiving when you think about the Montanans who were looking for jobs and have just stopped, or perhaps the Montanans who are disabled and can't work.
People like Chrissy Martin, who has been looking for work for six months, say that hearing that 5.5% of the state is out of work doesn't feel accurate.
"It sounds like a small number until you come into the Job Service, or you go to the library or you are handing in applications and the person you are handing an application to has 100 applications. That shows you that 100 people applied for just that one job," Martin told us.
So when you see the monthly unemployment rate pop up on your TV screen, just remember there is much more behind these numbers than you first thought.