With a .01% rise in the unemployment rate, Montana is back to a 5.7% unemployment rate, right where things stood in November 2012.

"Our unemployment rate has been going down since the end of 2010, however it does look like in January our employment growth slowed a little bit," said  Montana Department of Labor Senior Economist Barbara Wagner.  "That's kind of expected with the expiration of the payroll tax cut. Every worker is now paying an additional 2% that we weren't paying before so its kind of expected to slow down consumer industries."

The unemployment numbers for January (released on March 18) and for February (to be released March 28) were a bit delayed while the National Bureau of Labor Statistics and state labor departments re-estimate the data from 2012 to correct for anomalies.

According to Wagner, one of the corrections that changed the look of things in Montana has to do with the housing market.

"Last year we had some positive news in our housing markets in terms of prices starting to go up and even some indications of residential building going up, said Wagner. "But with the revision of data we just had, we're not showing as strong of employment gains in construction as we were showing before."

Barbara Wagner:

The fiscal cliff and the cut backs due to sequester are both causes for concern for the Montana department of Labor, but it is hard to tell exactly what the impact will be.

“The pull-back in federal funding and the expiration of the payroll tax break are expected to slow growth in the next few months, but I am confident that our economy will continue to move forward and add jobs throughout the next year,” said Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy.

The national unemployment rate echoed Montana by rising 0.1% and also showing less positive housing market data than originally thought for 2012.

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