Low unemployment in Montana? Not so much


MIDDLE OF THE ROAD: A new analysis of labor participation since 1999 ranks Montana twenty-seventh.

By Michael Mattson | WatchdogWire.com

As in most states, Montana’s job market is one major focal point for politicians, especially in an election year.

Every candidate for the United States Senate and House of Representatives is running ads and pointing fingers at their challenger. Candidates and political action committees are trying to boost their own credibility and damage, or at least limit, the credibility of an opponent.

While Montana’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the nation, the picture isn’t as rosy if one looks at labor force participation rates.

The unemployment numbers from the end of September and early October sounded good. As CNBC, and many others, reported:

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to nearly its lowest level since before the 2007-09 recession, a sign of growing steam in the U.S. labor market recovery.

Montana’s unemployment rate sits at 4.7 percent — tied with Oklahoma and Idaho. Only 10 states have a lower rate, including Wyoming at 4.6, Nebraska and South Dakota at 4.3, and North Dakota at 2.8. North Dakota’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the nation.

Even though Montana is doing comparatively well in terms of its unemployment rate, an analysis by The Liberty Foundation of America of labor participation since 1999 ranks Montana twenty-seventh.

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