Mineral County is still reeling from the news that Tricon Timber, a major regional employer, would be laying off around 90 full-time workers. Montana Department of Labor and Industry Senior Economist Barbara Wagner says that the layoffs are unlikely to make a big dent in the state’s overall job growth, but they will have a big local impact.

"It's going to be a big hit for Mineral County: a layoff of about 90 workers represents about 8 percent of their total employment in the county, and about 10 percent of all private employment," Wagner said. "So, that is a pretty large hit to the community, and it won't just be the workers that will be effected; all of the lack of wages will mean lower spending in grocery stores and other places as well."

Tricon management has cited the expiring Softwood Lumber Agreement with Canada has one of the reasons for the layoffs. That agreement will come to an end on Tuesday, October 13, and will allow Canada to ship Lumber to the states duty-free. Wagner says that if the layoffs are indeed trade related, there may be extra funds available to help workers.

"We do have some programs that are available: it's a federal program called the Trade Adjustment assistant. When workers are laid off for trade agreements and issues like this, then it helps get workers retrained into other industries that they have interest in, and it provides a little extra assistance than for the typical dislocated worker."

The Department of Labor and Industry sent Job Service workers to Mineral County on Tuesday to help coach workers through the layoff. Anyone with questions or in need of assistance can call the Job Service at 406 728-7060.