In March, Montana Posted First Net Job Losses Since 2011
Montana's unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.6 percent in March, according to new data from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. Senior economist with the department, Barbara Wagner says some of the trends behind the numbers are disturbing.
"We have been having pretty strong job growth for over the last year, but a lot of the concern this month we have this month is that that job growth has slowed," Wagner said. "We actually posted some negative job losses over the month. Not a large amount, but it has changed from the job growth we have had."
Montana has posted positive job gains since mid 2011, but in March somewhere between 500 and 700 jobs left the state.
"That is still within the margin of error," explained . "Statistically that could be zero, so we're not talking about a huge percentage here. That is about maybe half of a percent of Montana's overall employment, but it isn't positive, so that's our concern."
Wagner says sequestration will likely effect April's numbers and that the pay roll tax cut has already started to make an impact. Still, because of job growth in 2012, 2013 will likely be a better year for jobs than last year if things continue as they have through the first quarter.
Things weren't trending down in the Missoula area though, even in March the county posted job gains. However, Wagner said that during 2012 Missoula did not have a strong year like most of Montana and actually lost jobs overall.