Montana's unemployment rate dropped by a tenth of a percent in September down to 4.6 percent. According Montana Bureau of Labor and Industry Senior Economist Barbara Wagner, the unemployment rate is just about perfect.

"It's been around 4.6 percent since May, and that's actually a good thing," said Wagner. "We've seen our unemployment rate come down significantly in 2014 and we actually like to see unemployment rates right between about four to five percent."

As the state moves into the last three months of the year, many are wondering if the economy has improved. According to Wagner, the answer is pretty clear.

"I think the Montana economy is better off than a year ago," Wagner said. "There are areas of the state where that may not be true, but overall our economy is significantly stronger. We've added about 12,000 jobs over the past year and put a lot more people back to work."

Although firm numbers won't be in until after the end of the year, Wagner says that the growth isn't just in the number of jobs, but that it also appears to be in wages too.

One of the highlights for Wagner, is the job growth in Flathead and Missoula Counties, areas of the state that held onto the recession economy longer than most. Missoula has added about 1,800 jobs, and the Flathead has added about 1,300 jobs over the past year.

Barbara Wagner interview:


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