Montana’s unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percent to 7.7 percent in September. The U.S. unemployment rate again held steady at 9.1 percent.

“After job gains in the first half of 2011, Montana’s economy slowed in the third quarter,” said Labor Commissioner Keith Kelly. “However, the job gains posted in September suggest that we are still on the recovery path. We look forward to stronger job gains in the coming months.”

Total employment, which includes payroll, self-employed, and agricultural workers, posted job gains of about 900 in September. Payroll employment increased by 300 jobs, with a job gains of 700 in the private sector countering losses in the public sector. The private sector has posted fairly strong job growth throughout 2010 and 2011, but continued government job losses have prevented unemployment from declining.

The seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.3 percent in September, led by increases in the energy and food indexes. The CPI-U increased by 3.9 percent over the last year. The index for all items less food and energy (also called core inflation) increased by 0.1 percent, the smallest increase since March.