Big Sky Roundup

Department of Labor and Industry report: ‘Record job growth,’ housing still a challenge

By: - September 7, 2023 5:11 pm

The Walt Sullivan Building where the Montana Department of Labor and Industry are housed (Photo by Eric Seidle for the Daily Montanan).

Montana Department of Labor & Industry Commissioner Sarah Swanson said Thursday the annual Labor Day Report shows the state enters the winter of 2023 with an economy poised for future growth “and prosperity for Montana families.” 

“Montana enjoyed a historic year of record job growth, low unemployment and rising wages for middle-income families,” said Commissioner Swanson in a news release.  

The Labor Day Report is compiled annually by the Montana Department of Labor & Industry and examines the economic performance of the state as measured by key growth indicators such as employment growth, income growth, and workforce training and development, DLI said.

DLI highlighted growth in the news release, but the report also outlined some challenges.

For example, it notes rising home prices generate equity for homeowners, but create a barrier for many first-time homebuyers. It said Montana ranks eighth among states for fastest home price appreciation since 2020, with the typical home value averaging $440,000 in the first quarter of 2023, up 51% from three quarters earlier.

The report also noted that 42% of renters are cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their household income on rent.

It also discussed the unemployment rate for nurses. The report said the rate is so low, it indicates “critical worker shortages.” However, the report said solutions, such as an accelerated 15-month nursing track for adults at Carroll College in Helena, are underway.

In the news release, DLI highlighted the following:

  • In 2022, Montana added 20,900 jobs – the most of any year in state history. Montana ranked eighth among states for employment growth in 2022, posting 3.9% growth.
  • The unemployment rate fell to a record-low 2.3% the first quarter of 2023, with the number of unemployed Montanans also hitting a record low of nearly 13,000.
  • Tight labor market conditions persisted in 2022, with nearly three job openings for every one unemployed person.
  • Personal income grew by 3.1% in 2022 – ranking Montana 19th in the nation for fastest personal income growth.
  • Record low unemployment rates have increased competition for workers and driven up wages. The average wage for Montana workers rose by over 6% in 2022, the fourth fastest among states.

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