Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The State of Montana continues to set new records for both employment and labor force participation, according to officials with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

KGVO News spoke to Amy Watson, state economist with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

Montana is Setting New Records for Employment Growth

“Montana's employment numbers have been growing steadily over the course of the year,” began Watson. “We've added about 8,800 jobs over 2023 over the last 12 months and our employment rate currently sits at 3.2 percent which is below the long run average and is considered a low unemployment rate environment for the state.”

The obvious question is why? Watson said the growth in new businesses throughout the state has fueled the growth in jobs.

Jobs are Opening Up Because of Strong Economic Growth

“We've seen a lot of really strong economic growth in the state since 2020,” she said. We've seen significant growth both in 2021 and 2022 in terms of overall economic growth, as well as growth in our total employment and labor force. We've added about 1,200 additional people into the state labor force just over the last month, and so that has helped alleviate some of the tight labor markets.”

Growth has been so rapid that Watson said there is a great need for more workers throughout the state.

“Many businesses are reporting difficulty hiring at this point, because there aren't necessarily enough workers to fill those job openings,” she said. “We have over two job postings for every one unemployed person, and the labor markets are tight. They were that way prior to the pandemic as well and really over the better parts of the last decade or so Montana has been experiencing tight labor markets.”

Workers age 50 to 70 are Finding More Job Opportunities in Montana

Watson said even those over 50 and into their 70’s are finding jobs in Montana’s economy.

“We see higher workforce engagement among what we would consider our prime working age population between 25 and 54 years old,” she said. “In addition, we've even seen that labor force participation rates increase for those over the age of 65. Right now it's just over 20 percent. Whereas, back in the 90s, it was closer to say, I believe it was around 11 percent at that time, so we've seen significant growth in that workforce engagement.”

Watson said Montana’s unemployment rate of 3.2 percent is still below the national rate of 3.7 percent.

Interestingly, a new study by journorecearch dot org, states that Montana is number two in the country for workers quitting their jobs and moving on to other employment.

LOOK: Highest-paying jobs in Missoula

Stacker compiled the highest paying jobs in Missoula, MT using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

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