The Montana Department of Labor and Industry has published the State's unemployment numbers for the month of August.

The report shows unemployment holding relatively flat through the summer at 6.3%, almost identical to what it was in May, but much better than the national rate of 8.1%.

The national rate dropped by .o2%, but according to the Department of Labor statistic's August report "Both Montana and the U.S. rate decreases were caused by reductions in the labor force."

Chief economist for the Montana Department of Labor and Industry Barbara Wagner says

"Unfortunately the August unemployment numbers are not very informative about the economy right now. What we would like to see is continued decline in the unemployment rate and continued job growth . . .but we have not posted that this summer.  Last year this happened too and we had very strong job growth in the last months of the year, we hope to see that in the coming months."

According to Wagner, the northwest sector of Montana along with Missoula and Ravalli counties are having the slowest growth of any area of the state. Billings, on the other hand, has seen a boom in growth as has the eastern edge of the state.

Labor Commissioner Keith Kelly also commented on the report saying, “overall, we expect Montana to continue its employment growth after this summer. About 8,000 jobs have been added during the past year, posting fairly rapid job growth of 1.7%.”

Along with the report came some bad news for consumers. Montana's consumer price increase jumped up 0.6% sharply driven by a 9% jump in gas prices over the month. Food prices, meanwhile, increased by 0.2% in August.