Flathead jobless rate up in December

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Flathead County’s unemployment rate rose half a percentage point in December, to 5.2 percent. The county had been at a 4.7 percent unemployment rate in November and 4.1 percent in October.

Flathead ranked 50th among 56 Montana counties for unemployment in December, with the highest rate among the state’s most populous areas.

The Bozeman area’s Gallatin County saw the state’s lowest unemployment among the metropolitan areas in December, with 2.7 percent and an addition of almost 2,000 jobs since the same time last year.

Montana’s overall unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent for the month of December, holding steady while the national unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 3.9 percent.

“Montana’s economy remains strong heading into a new year. But let us not forget that the hundreds of federal employees currently going without a paycheck due to the federal government shutdown will have impacts on our economy and unemployment in January,”said Gov. Steve Bullock. “Here in Montana we will keep working together to get things done while we weather this weight on our economy and on the people of Montana.”

Lake County saw the lowest unemployment rate among Northwest Montana counties in December with 4.3 percent. Sanders County had a 6.3 percent unemployment rate and Lincoln County was the highest in the state, with 8 percent.

At 4.6 percent, the Flathead Reservation had the lowest unemployment rate in December among Montana’s seven reservations. The Blackfeet Reservation had a 10.7 percent rate.

Unemployment rates are calculated using the employment status of the worker for the week of the 12th each month. Therefore, workers furloughed due to the federal shutdown, which began on December 22, will be counted as unemployed in January.

Total employment for Montana, which includes payroll, agricultural, and self-employed workers, indicated an increase of 1,112 jobs in December. The unemployment rate remained steady due to a similar increase in the labor force of 1,255 people. Payroll employment indicated jobs gains of 300, with small changes across all industries. Workers furloughed due to the shutdown would have still been considered employed during December, keeping the number of unemployed workers fairly steady over the month.

Reporter Heidi Gaiser may be reached at 758-4438 or hgaiser@dailyinterlake.com.

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