September 25, 2013 | Volume 100 / Number 39

County Unemployment Remains Under 4%

Valley County’s unemployment rate remained below 4% at 3.9% in August, rising a slim 0.1 percentage points over July’s rate. The county’s August labor force stood at 4,002, with 3,847 people employed and 155 unemployed.

Across Montana, the unemployment rate held steady at 5.3% in August. The national rate declined by 0.1 percentage points to 7.3%.

Unemployment rates stayed quite stable in much of Valley County’s regional neighborhood, with Phillips and Garfield faring best. Phillips improved to 5.0% in August from 5.3% in July and Garfield to 2.7 from 3.0.

Unemployment rates in other Northeast Montana counties: Daniels 3.3 % in August (3.4% in July), McCone 2.3 (2.2), Roosevelt 6.2 (6.2), Sheridan 2.2 (2.1), Richland 2.2 (2.2) and Dawson 3.4 (3.3).

“Montana’s job growth was flat, but the state has still added jobs since this time last year” said Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy. “Employment levels this August are 3,200 higher than last year.”

Both payroll and total employment estimates suggested little change in state employment levels over the month. Payroll employment was flat for August after a gain of 1,200 jobs in July. Total employment estimates, which include payroll employment plus the self-employed, slipped down by about 650 jobs for the second straight month. The total employment losses were matched by a 720 person decline in the labor force, keeping the unemployment rate steady at 5.3%

Inflation levels remain low. The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased by 0.1% in August, led by increases in the prices for shelter and medical care. The energy index declined 0.3%. Core inflation, measured by the all items less food and energy index, rose by 0.1%.

Statewide unemployment figures are seasonally-adjusted. Seasonally-adjusted numbers remove the effects of events that follow a more or less regular month-to-month pattern each year.

These adjustments make nonseasonal patterns easier to identify.

The margin of error for the unemployment rate is plus or minus 0.8 percentage points at the 90 percent confidence level.

County unemployment rates and employment levels are not seasonally adjusted and should be compared to the unadjusted statewide unemployment rate of 4.8%.

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