Montana Public Radio

Unemployment

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.

 Updated on Dec. 9, 2020

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry issued 38,584 unemployment insurance payments last week, nearly double the 20,308 it issued the week before. The department paid over $12.5 million in unemployment benefits last week. 

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. 

Screen capture from a Montana Department of Labor & Industry FAQ page about unemployment benefits. http://dli.mt.gov/self-employed-contractors
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.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock Wednesday announced he will funnel $200 million of federal coronavirus relief funds to the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.

Bullock said on a weekly press call more than 100,000 Montanans have received unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic. That’s led to a more than $160 million drop in the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which is supported by a tax paid by Montana businesses.

The amount those businesses pay each year largely depends on the fund’s balance in the fall.

August 2020 - Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate for the U.S. and Montana.
Montana Department of Labor & Industry

Montana unemployment claims are steadily decreasing and that trend could continue, despite the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the state. 

Montana unemployment rate by county on September 3, 2020.
Montana Department of Labor and Industry

Applications for unemployment assistance increased in Montana for the third consecutive week, even as national numbers are falling, the U.S. Employment and Training Administration said Thursday.

Sign reading 'temporarily closed dut to coronavirus pandemic'.
iStock

The state of Montana has applied for federal grant money to add $400 per week to individual unemployment benefits.

President Donald Trump ordered the boost in payments a week ago. People had been receiving an added $600 per week in unemployment payments under the CARES Act, but that expired at the end of July.

The Republican candidate for Montana’s sole U.S. House seat recently released a plan that he says will revitalize an economy impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Current state Auditor Matt Rosendale says his proposals can create the jobs necessary to get people back to work as soon as possible.

“I’d say the bulk of this is about reducing unnecessary burdensome regulation and making sure that we have a reasonable tax and predictable tax policy in place,” Rosendale said.

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