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Montana ranks fifth in the nation for post-COVID job recovery

Change in labor force by state from February 2020-August 2022
Montana Department of Labor and Industry, Local Area Unemployment Statistics. Seasonally Adjusted.
Change in labor force by state from February 2020-August 2022

August jobs data from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry show the state is fifth in the nation in percentage of jobs recovered since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The seasonally-adjusted data show Montana had 4.6% more jobs in August of this year than in February 2020. That was when statewide employment peaked just before the pandemic led to scores of furloughs and layoffs.

Only four other states have recovered a greater percentage of their jobs, and nearly half have yet to regain pre-pandemic numbers.

Bureau of Business and Economic Research Director Patrick Barkey says a resurgence of total wages paid to workers in Montana has accompanied the jobs growth and is responsible for the state’s billion-dollar budget surplus. He says those economic gains aren’t sure to last as the federal government tries to battle inflation.

“Those who want to proceed as if the state of Montana is going to continue to have this huge wage growth, huge income tax receipts growth, are going to be rudely shocked, because those things are certain to change,” Barkey says.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hospitality and manufacturing industries are among those with the biggest job gains in Montana. Nearly 4,000 more people are working in hotels, restaurants and resorts and a thousand more in manufacturing now than before the pandemic.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Corrected: September 28, 2022 at 3:23 PM MDT
Montana is fifth in the nation in jobs recovered since the pandemic, not ninth, as stated in the original publication. This story inaccurately used labor force growth data when employment growth was the proper source for comparing jobs recovered among states.

Austin Amestoy