Montana’s unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percent for the second straight month, ending at 7.6 percent in October. The U.S. unemployment rate also decreased by 0.1 percent to 9.0 percent.

“Montana’s economy has seen slight growth in employment, personal income, and gross domestic product,” said Labor Commissioner Keith Kelly. “The recent unemployment declines are encouraging news, and I hope that job growth continues through the holiday season.”

Final estimates for the third quarter indicate that total employment, which includes payroll, self-employed, and agricultural workers, gained about 2,200 jobs over the past year.

Total employment hit a low in December 2009 and has been trending upwards during 2011 after little change in 2010. Preliminary estimates for total employment in October indicate continued slow job growth of about 600 jobs.

Payroll employment estimates indicate stronger growth in the past year, posting an increase of about 6,000 jobs from the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011. Strong private sector growth across most industries has offset job losses in the government sector. The manufacturing industry continues to experience slow job losses, while the construction industry has stabilized with little employment change in the last two quarters. Preliminary employment estimates for October indicate continued job growth of about 1,800 payroll jobs.

Prices declined in October, with a 0.1 percent decline in the seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers. A decline in the energy index offset small increases in the food index and all items less food and energy index. The index for all items less food and energy (also called core inflation) increased by 0.1 percent.