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Unemployment, labor force participation rates hit record lows in Montana

Montana is simultaneously seeing all-time low labor force participation.
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Montana is simultaneously seeing all-time low labor force participation.

Montana's unemployment rate fell last month to a record low. That's only part of the state's overall workforce picture.

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced that the unemployment rate hit 2.8 percent in November. He also reported the creation of 3,000 new jobs the same month.

Montana unemployment and labor force participation rates
U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics data as of Dec. 24, 2021
Montana unemployment and labor force participation rates

According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Montana's unemployment rate has more than rebounded after it peaked in the early days of the pandemic. Gianforte says he'll continue to push his "pro-jobs, pro-growth agenda" into the new year.

The story of Montana's labor force is more complicated than the unemployment number. The state is simultaneously seeing all-time low labor force participation.

"That's like how many people are actually trying to find jobs or are employed," said Carly Urban, a professor of economics at Montana State University.

Urban says it's positive that people looking for jobs are finding them. But the state last month also had the second highest rate in the country for people quitting their jobs.

"That, to me, says that there's something going on," Urban said, "particularly in states where service industry is big."

The seasonally adjusted number of hospitality employees in the state is down by 1,500 workers.

Urban says she believes the labor force participation drop can be attributed to job conditions and the lack of affordable child care in Montana.
Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Shaylee is a UM Journalism School student. She reports and helps produce Montana Evening News on MTPR.