Montana’s unemployment rate rose last month, jumping from 4.5 to 4.6 percent, and Montana Department of Labor and Industry Economist Barbara Wagner says this jump in the unemployment rate is actually a good thing.

"The reason why the unemployment rate ticked up, just slightly, is because we added some more people to the labor market," Wagner said. "Now that actually is a good sign, because it means that optimism is improving about the economy and people are rejoining the labor market in order to come find jobs. And the more workers we have, the more we can produce as an economy, and the better off we are."

Wagner says the overall trend is toward a lower unemployment rate.

"This year, we've really gone down a lot: we've dropped by seven-tenths of a percentage point," Wagner said. "That's a pretty big decrease in our unemployment rate since January, so we are heading downward."

Wagner says that in the Missoula area alone, over 2,300 jobs have been added over the past year. Also, she notes, the jump from 5.4 to 5.5 percent is not statistically significant.