Montana Public Radio

Montana Department of Labor and Industry

A Christian ministry based in Whitefish which operates the Mudman Burgers chain has agreed to pay former employees roughly $118,000 in back pay and penalties for those unpaid wages.

Mudman Burgers restaurants owned by Potter's Field Ministries closed down following allegations against the ministry and its leaders Mike and Pam Rozell.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

The state department of labor denied an appeal by a former Whitefish Christian ministry challenging an order to pay more than $100,000 in back wages and penalties. The state rejected Potter’s Field Ministries’ argument that former workers had donated unpaid time as an “act of god.”

Montanans receiving unemployment benefits saw a boost in payments last week due to new federal aid.

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry reported that it paid out over $20 million in benefits last week, almost twice the $11.8 million it distributed the previous week.

Montana Labor Market Information / Montana Department of Labor and Industry

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry announced Tuesday that it has continued paying out unemployment insurance benefits through the latest federal stimulus package passed at the end of last year. An agency spokesperson said the programs will be open until mid-March, with some final payments extending into April.

Gov. Steve Bullock’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Montana task force, aimed at narrowing the gender wage gap, released its final report Wednesday.

The task force’s final report, released as Bullock prepares to leave office, encourages more women to pursue jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and to learn effective wage negotiation strategies. It also recommends employers engage in fair hiring policies and offer childcare solutions and paid family leave.

Montana Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate, October 2020.
Montana Department of Labor & Industry

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry issued over 20,300 unemployment insurance payments last week, totaling about $8.5 million. That’s down a couple hundred payments from the previous week

The state’s unemployment rate went down 0.5% last month to 4.9%, which is two points below the national rate. 

Montana lawmakers in the Revenue Interim Committee reviewed revenue forecasts Thursday that will help guide state budget decisions during the 2021 legislative session.

In a year filled with economic uncertainty and a recession due to the coronavirus pandemic, state financial experts warn that some impacts to the state budget remain to be seen.

Montana Governor elect Greg Gianforte on Monday announced a joint transition advisory team to identify and review candidates to serve as the next directors for the state Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor and Industry.

The 10 person advisory team includes representatives from the construction, roofing and insurance industries, higher education and present and former leaders of trade associations. A Billings hotel and restaurant owner is also on Gianforte’s COVID-19 transition advisory team.

Screen capture from a Montana Department of Labor & Industry FAQ page about unemployment benefits.
Montana Department of Labor & Industry

Hundreds of recipients of unemployment insurance through the federal CARES Act are now being asked to give that money back. 

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is designed for gig workers, the self-employed and other groups not normally eligible for unemployment benefits. The Bozeman Chronicle reported Thursday that recipients are now receiving bills, some for more than $10,000. 

Montana 2020 Unemployment Claims By Type.
Montana Department of Labor & Industry

Montana has sent over $1 billion in unemployment benefits to residents since the start of the pandemic. The state passed that milestone in October. As unemployment payments climbed during the pandemic, so did fraud.