The unemployment rate for the month of October was the same as September at 4.3 percent. Department of Labor and Industry Chief Economist Barbra Wagner says that’s not a bad thing.

“The good news is that we have increased our job count in Montana by about 2,000 jobs,” said Wagner. “The unemployment rate stays the same because the same amount of people also entered the labor force. Growth in the labor force and growth in employment are both really great news. An unemployment rate that stays right in the range of the ideal unemployment rate around four percent is also really great news.”

To be in the labor force you either have to be working or looking for work. According to Wagner, the employment growth has changed throughout the state.

“Most of the job growth in the last month and also in the last year has been in the western portion of Montana, but also in Billings,” Wagner said. “We have seen slower employment growth in the eastern portion of the state and faster employment growth in the urban and western portion of the state, which is exactly opposite of what it was like during the recession.”

Wagner says around 500,000 people are employed in the state of Montana.

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