Posted: May 17, 2013 12:11 PM by MTN News
HELENA - State labor officials report that the unemployment rate in the Treasure State fell 0.1% in March, to sit at 5.5%.
"After a slow start in the first quarter, Montana's employment growth is back on the right track this month, adding about 660 jobs," Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy said.
"Montana's unemployment rate continues to fall, and is now within the range that economists consider normal unemployment. Further, Montana wage growth last year was strong, suggesting a higher standard of living for Montanans and stronger employment growth in future months," Bucy added in a news release.
Total employment estimates suggest a small job gain of 660 jobs, which is slightly less than last year's average monthly job gain. Payroll employment estimates were flat for the month with minor retail job losses offsetting gains in other industries.
The national rate also fell by 0.1% in March and now sits at 7.5%.
Big Horn County once again had the highest unemployment rate, 15.0%, in March. Lincoln County, at 14.3% and Sanders County with a 12.2% unemployment rate, were second and third respectively.
The lowest jobless rate in state was 1.9% in Fallon County.
State labor officials also note that Montana's average wage increased by 3.6% last year, with payroll employment growth of 1.8%, according to preliminary data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW).
The employment and wage growth are the highest growth since 2007 and similar to the economic growth experienced in the early 2000s.
Montana's average annual wage was $37,100 in 2012, up from $35,800 in 2011, according to state labor officials.