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State unemployment rate continues to fall

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Montana Department of Labor and Industry

HELENA – Montana’s unemployment rate continued to drop in December,
falling 0.1 percentage points to 5.7 percent. The state unemployment rate has been on a downward trend since mid-2011. The national rate held steady at 7.8 percent.

Montana starts 2013 with a strong economy that has been adding jobs
and gaining wages for over two years, said Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy.

“Although the national economy faces risks and uncertainty arising from federal
tax and spending levels, I am confident that Montana’s economy will have the
momentum and resilience to continue growth in the next year. Montana will continue to outperform the
nation, with lower unemployment than the national average.”

Montana’s total employment, which includes payroll workers, the
self-employed and agricultural workers, increased by 201 jobs over the month on
a seasonally adjusted basis. Total
employment has increased by more than 7,000 jobs since December 2011.

Payroll employment estimates indicated a
similar employment gain of 500 jobs, with an 11,200 job gain over the last
year. Preliminary annual data from 2012
suggest that the professional and business services industry and the
construction industry added the most jobs over the year, while the government
sector experienced continued job losses for a second straight year.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers remained
unchanged for December, following a decline in November, because of continued
falling prices for gasoline. Food and
shelter prices increased for the month.
Food prices are expected to increase over the next year due to lower food
production in 2012 because of wide-spread drought. Shelter prices have started to rise because
of the stabilization and tepid growth of the national housing market. Core inflation, measured by the all items
less food and energy index, rose 0.1 percentage points.

Unemployment figures are seasonally-adjusted. Seasonally-adjusted numbers remove the effects of events that follow a more or less regular month-to-month pattern each year. These adjustments make
nonseasonal patterns easier to identify. The margin of error for the
unemployment rate is plus or minus 0.8 percentage points at the 90 percent
confidence level.

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