Montana’s unemployment rate increased slightly by one-tenth of a percent for the month of August, to 4.3 percent. Department of Labor and Industry Senior Economist Barbara Wagner explains.

“We are getting increased claims from the eastern portion of the state with the oil and gas impact spreading to some of the other industries,” said Wagner. “Although we are also seeing some signs that that is moderating and some more people might be coming back to work in the oil and gas sector.”

Wagner says although there have been multiple layoffs, people are typically not out of a job for very long.

“The thing is if you are hanging out at 4% unemployment rate, when you have some layoffs those people might get hired again really quickly because we have lots of job openings, but they are on unemployment for a couple of months,” Wagner said. “We don’t have a huge number of increases in our claims we are right about the same level as we were last year.”

According to Wagner, unemployment in Missoula and Ravalli County has been on the decline this past year.