Lake County unemployment rate at 8%

by Lake County Leader
| June 25, 2020 12:39 PM

Lake County’s jobless rate has worsened slightly over the past month, rising from 7% unemployment in April to 8% in May as the lifting of some COVID-19 restrictions enabled businesses to begin to reopen.

Lake County reported a workforce of 12,925 with 1,037 out of work, according to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. The Flathead Reservtion jobless rate in May registered at 8.5%, a drop of 1.8% from the previous month.

Meanwhile, Flathead County’s unemployment rate improved in May, posting at 11.9%. Flathead had posted a 16 % unemployment rate in April.

Flathead County currently has a workforce of 42,303 people, down 3,429 workers from this time last year. The total number of unemployed workers is 5,688.

Neighboring counties also are experiencing double-digit unemployment due to the pandemic. Sanders County reported a 10% jobless rate in both April and May, while Lincoln County improved slightly, from 13% in April to 12.7% in May. Missoula County unemployment was at 9.3% in May.

Statewide, Montana’s unemployment rate improved to 9% for the month of May, compared to 11.3% in April. In March, before the COVID-19-induced economic downturn, Montana’s unemployment rate was 3.6%.

Montana’s unemployment rate remained below the national rate of 13.3% in May.

Montana posted the third-fastest payroll employment growth among states in May with 4% over-the-month growth, and had the seventh lowest unemployment rate in the country, according to a press release from Gov. Steve Bullock.

Private payroll employment posted a record-breaking gain of 15,700 jobs over the month, with improvement across most private industries. Job losses in the local government sector kept overall payroll employment gains to 13,300 jobs. Total employment — including both payroll jobs and the self-employed — added 16,780 jobs over the month, the most jobs added in any single month since the data series began in 1976, the press release noted.

Despite the significant job gains, Montana’s May employment estimate remains roughly 44,000 jobs below its pre-pandemic peak.

“Due to our early action to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we’ve been able to continue with the phased reopening of our state, our economy is recovering, and thousands of Montanans have returned to work,” Bullock said.

Since the employment data was captured in May, unemployment claims continue to drop, suggesting future employment data will continue to improve, the release stated. And since the peak of unemployment claims during the week of April 18, nearly 29,000 Montanans have gone back to work to date and are no longer making a claim. In addition, approximately 15,000 Montanans have gone back to work part time.