HELENA, MT (STL.News) Montana’s unemployment rate declined again, falling to 3.6% in May, down from 4.0% in January and down from 9.1% one year ago. The unemployment rate for the U.S. was 5.8% for the month of May.
“Montanans who were sidelined during the pandemic are returning to the workforce and getting back to work,” Gov. Greg Gianforte said. “Our continued recovery depends on continuing these positive trends, so our businesses can meet their growing customer demand.”
Montana’s total employment, which includes payroll, agricultural, and self-employed workers, grew by 2,221 in May. The labor force also had strong growth over the month, adding 1,908 workers. Payroll jobs declined by 700 in May, with declines in Construction and Leisure and Hospitality accounting for most of the loss.
In early May, Gov. Gianforte announced the State of Montana will launch a return-to-work bonus program, utilizing federal funds authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act. Return-to-work bonuses of $1,200 will be paid to unemployed individuals who rejoin the labor force and accept and maintain steady employment for at least one month. The governor also announced the State of Montana will end its participation in federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs and transition to pre-pandemic unemployment insurance (UI) eligibility and benefits by the end of June.
“With the federal government continuing to consider trillions and trillions of dollars in more spending, inflation continues to be cause for concern. Ultimately, inflation reduces the value of the paychecks hardworking Montanans earn, and I urge the federal government to turn off the spigot of out-of-control spending that’s driving up inflation and our national debt,” Gov. Gianforte said.
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased by 0.6% over the month in May. The 12-month increase from May 2020 was 5.0%, a continuation of the high price growth seen in April. Prices of used cars and trucks rose again in May, with a 7.3% increase. The food index rose 0.4% over the month, the same increase as seen in April. The index for all items less food and energy, referred to as core inflation, increased 0.7% in May.