Montana Governor Steve Bullock and the state labor department are cheering after job gains in the month of March.

"We had a really great March, adding about 2,400  jobs," said Montana Department of Labor and Industry Senior Economist Barbara Wagner. "This brings the first quarter of the year up to about 7,400 jobs, which is really, really strong job growth to start 2014. I mean, 7,400 jobs is how many we added in a full year in 2011."

Despite a rise in the number of jobs, the unemployment rate remained fixed at 5.1 percent, Wagner explains why:

"When we have stronger job growth, particularly as strong as we've been having, what that does is create a better economy," Wagner said. "There are people who are not working, or who are getting education, or taking care of family, who, all of the sudden see more job opportunities. Since there are more people looking for jobs that keeps the unemployment rate more steady."

At 5.1 percent, Montana's is well below the 6.7 percent unemployment rate in the rest of the U.S.

About 486,000 Montanans have jobs, while the total labor market is pegged at about 517,000. That means that more than half of Montanans don't have jobs, or are not looking for work. That total is composed of those past retirement age, children, the disabled, students, and others who, for one reason or another, are not in the labor force.


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