Montana Department of Labor and Industry

A Blackfoot Communications employee installs conduit for fiber optic cable near St. Ignatius, Montana, June 2020.
Charles Bolte/Yellowstone Public Radio


This story is part of our series that looks at lasting ways Montana is adapting during the pandemic. It’s funded in part by the Solutions Journalism Network.

For years, economic developers have touted the possibilities for people to live in Montana and work for companies that aren’t here. The COVID-19 shutdown has, in some ways, offered proof of that concept. 

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry has found that an embattled Whitefish ministry violated state law by asking its workers to volunteer much of their time serving food at affiliated burger restaurants. Potter’s Field Ministries now owes six workers a combined $150,000.

Unemployment insurance claim filings From Mar. 5, 2020 through May 9, 2020.
Montana Department of Labor and Industry

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry paid out more than $55 million in unemployment last week.

Three Children Work Togther On A Laptop
Lucelia Rebeiro (CC BY_SA 2.0) / Flickr

Child care is a critical part of Montana’s economic recovery from COVID-19 as more parents return to work. But some providers have closed permanently and others are struggling, adding to an already dire shortage. Recently released federal funding may only provide short term relief as the state faces a child care crisis.

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate March 2020
Montana Department of Labor & Industry

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry issued more than 55,000 unemployment payments totaling $60 million last week.

The total includes regular unemployment payments, expanded pandemic assistance and the $600 weekly addition from the federal CARES Act.

A temporarily closed sign is posted in an art gallery in Bozeman, Montana, March 18, 2020.
Rachel Cramer/Yellowstone Public Radio

Montanans who are self-employed, independent contractors or gig workers impacted by COVID-19 are now receiving unemployment payments.

Montanans Rally At Capitol To Air Grievances, Advocate Lifting Coronavirus Restrictions

Apr 20, 2020

More than three hundred Montana citizens and multiple Republican candidates for statewide office gathered at the state Capitol in Helena on Sunday, flaunting federal, state, and public health agency social distancing recommendations to express a range of opinions centered on the belief that it’s time for state directives closing schools and businesses to end.

Montana Issues 74,000 Unemployment Checks

Apr 20, 2020
The percent change of initial unemployement claims in March, over the year.
Montana Department of Labor and Industry

Montana issued more than 74,000 unemployment payments totalling $62 million last week. That’s almost 45 percent more payments than the week prior.

The 74,000 payments do not represent the number of people receiving claims.

COVID-19 Emergency Resources for Employers and Workers
Montana Department of Labor and Industry /

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry says it issued more than 35,000 unemployment insurance payments in the last week of March.

Wage growth in Montana was 6th fastest in the nation over the last decade. That was one among a number or rosey statistics shared by the Bullock administration during its release of the 2019 Labor Day Report, Tuesday.