The Montana Department of Labor and Industry and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday morning that Montana reached a record low 2.5 percent unemployment rate for 2021. The number of unemployed Montanans is at its lowest level since BLS began the data series in 1976.

KGVO News spoke to Governor Greg Gianforte about the employment news as he was enroute to Anaconda.

“Montana is open for business,’ began Governor Gianforte. “I ran on a platform of more good paying jobs while protecting our way of life. Then, yesterday we announced unemployment at record low 2.5%. We've never seen that before. More people are working in Montana today than ever in the history of the state. In the last year alone, the state and the private sector in Montana created over 20,000 new jobs. I'm just thrilled with the results as they show the impacts that our policies can have.”

Gianforte acknowledged the fact that record low unemployment points out the current worker shortage across the state, and what his administration is doing about it.

“We're recruiting Montanans to come back home with our come home, Montana campaign, Peter,” he said. “We know where these people live. They graduated from Montana high schools and colleges, and we're just carpet bombing them with social media and direct mail. It's almost unfair because we're using pictures of people floating the rivers and skiing the mountains while they're trapped in these concrete jungles. They know the quality of life here. They went to school here. They grew up here. We want them back, and we're recruiting them.”

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Gianforte said his administration is doing everything possible to encourage new business growth.

“We kicked off a ‘red tape relief task force’ to make sure that the state isn’t creating arbitrary friction with small business and the job creators and Peter it's working,” he said. “We had 50,000 new businesses, a record number registered in Montana last year alone that was over a 30% increase from any prior year.

To help employers find and train new workers, Gianforte touted the new ‘M-Tech’ program.

“Any employer that wants to invest in one of their employees, the state will pay up to 50% of the tuition to get a trades education,” he said. “So, the state will pick up half the tab up to $3,000 per year per employee and up to $25,000 per year per employer. That's called the M-Tech, and if you're a small business owner and you want to invest in your people, talk to your accountant about the M-Tech program. It's a tax credit where the state will pay 50% of the training costs.”

Missoula County’s unemployment rate is also at a record low two percent.

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