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Montana unemployment rate drops to 5.1 percent

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HELENA – Strong employment growth in February resulted in a 0.2 percentage point drop in Montana’s unemployment rate, bringing the rate to 5.1 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points in February, up to 6.7 percent.

“Montana’s economy continues to show strong growth in February, adding over 3,000 jobs,” Gov. Steve Bullock said. “I look forward to working with Main Street Montana businesses to ensure the state’s economy continues to grow in 2014.”

Montana has added nearly 5,000 jobs in the first two months of 2014, said Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy, calling it a great opportunity for Montana workers. “The Department of Labor and Industry continues our work to update worker skills for new job openings to supply a top-notch labor force for Montana employers.”

February posted large gains in both employment and the labor force. Total employment, which includes payroll employment plus agricultural and self-employed workers, added 3,090 jobs in February – one of the largest over-the-month job gains in the history of the data series. The Montana labor force also increased by 2,480 workers, which is also a large increase compared to other months. Payroll employment estimates signal smaller job growth of 400 jobs, with small employment changes across most industries.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 0.1 percent in February, led by food price increases. The food index rose by 0.4 percent, with prices for grocery store food increasing. Core inflation, measured by the all items less food and energy index, rose by 0.1 percent, maintaining relatively low inflation levels.

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