Montana Public Radio

jobs

Montana’s governor says the state’s employment rate is in a healthier place compared to many other states after the coronavirus pandemic led to government mandated business closures earlier this year.

Some economists say it’s too soon to draw conclusions.

Governor Steve Bullock says Montana Department of Labor and Industry data show that the state has the sixth fastest job bounce back in the country.

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry issued more than 55,000 unemployment payments totaling $60 million last week.

The total includes regular unemployment payments, expanded pandemic assistance and the $600 weekly addition from the federal CARES Act.

Dec. 2019 vs. April 2020 Forecast Comparison - Total Employment (thousands).
UM Bureau of Business and Economic Research

An economic downturn of greater magnitude than that seen in 2008 recession could be felt in Montana in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to a preliminary analysis from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.

The report released Tuesday forecasts the Montana economy in 2020 could see employment drop 7.3 percent, a loss of more than 50,000 jobs.

A screen capture from Montana's unemployment website, montanaworks.gov, April 01, 2020, telling visitors the unemployment office is experiencing unprecedented call volumes and directing visitors to more resources.
montanaworks.gov

The number of Montanans filing for unemployment continues to rise. More than 64,000 people in the state have filed a claim for benefits since the first case of the novel coronavirus was reported in Montana in mid March.

The new unemployment filings equate to almost 6 percent of Montana’s population.

A screen capture from Montana's unemployment website, montanaworks.gov, April 01, 2020, telling visitors the unemployment office is experiencing unprecedented call volumes and directing visitors to more resources.
montanaworks.gov

Self employed, gig workers and freelancers in Montana can now file for unemployment benefits under the federal aid package passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last week.

The $2 trillion spending bill aims to provide economic relief amid the novel coronavirus pandemic that’s caused statewide stay-at-home orders and businesses to close their doors.

When Montanans went to the state’s unemployment website to file a claim on March 20, 2020 they were greeted with this message: "Unemployment Registration is currently experiencing high user load and may be slow, unresponsive, or down."
Screen capture: montanaworks.gov March 20, 2020, 6:35 p.m.

More than 17,000 new claims for unemployment benefits have been filed in Montana since new regulations took effect last week that expand eligibility to workers impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

An average of 2,100 people a day in the state filed for unemployment from March 17 through March 24.

Glacier County Courthouse in Cut Bank, Montana.
By J.B. Chandler (CC-BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19654909)

Glacier County will temporarily lay off half of its workforce for 30 days in order to keep the county’s books balanced. The layoffs begin today. The county, which has long-standing financial troubles, decided to lay off workers now because it was already reducing staff due to the coronavirus outbreak.

When Montanans went to the state’s unemployment website to file a claim on March 20, 2020 they were greeted with this message: "Unemployment Registration is currently experiencing high user load and may be slow, unresponsive, or down."
Screen capture: montanaworks.gov March 20, 2020, 6:35 p.m.

When Montanans go to the state’s unemployment website to file a claim they’re greeted with this message: "Unemployment Registration is currently experiencing high user load and may be slow, unresponsive, or down."

More than 2,800 people in Montana signed up for unemployment Wednesday following changes to regulations that allow some workers impacted by the novel coronavirus to use the social benefit.

Many Montana companies are struggling to find suitable workers to fill job openings. Researchers and industry experts at a seminar in Bozeman Wednesday say there aren’t enough skilled applicants. But educators say they see opportunities in more apprenticeships.

Montana saw wage growth in 2019, but an economic slowdown is expected in coming years, according to University of Montana researchers. The Bureau of Business and Economic Research released its annual outlook Tuesday in Helena.

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