Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Becky Beard - R
Montana HD 80 

Becky Beard HD80 update


Headlines report positive statistics about our low unemployment rates, both nationally and statewide. The national report, as of June 1st, has the US unemployment rate at 3.8 percent, the lowest in nearly two decades. In Montana, it's at 4.0 percent; a generally static figure here in the Treasure State. However, by county, McCone County (northeastern Montana) has the lowest rate of 2.3, and Lincoln County (northwestern Montana) experiences the highest rate of 12.7 percent. Montana's reservations continue to experience higher unemployment ranging from 6.5 to 15.5 percent.

Job postings continue. The Montana Job Service indicates they've had a monthly average of 7,543 help-wanted postings state-wide over the past four months. In Lewis and Clark County alone, that figure is 1,080. These figures exclude postings outside of the Job Service network. The occupations most highly sought include management; business and financial; sales; and office/administrative. According to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry's report on the employment outcomes for Montana colleges (September 2017), demand is high for the following occupations: public safety and public administration; construction; mechanics and automotive technology; transportation and material moving; medical coding; medical administrative assistance; health technicians; administrative assistance; and finance. Additionally, there are increasing opportunities for business start-ups in the aforementioned sectors.\

Of concern is the number of working-age individuals no longer participating in the work force, oftentimes because of the lack of good-paying job opportunities. According to the Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee's January 2018 report (Medicaid Expansion: Enrollee Demographics), "nondisabled individuals ages 19 to 64 are eligible for the program if their incomes don't exceed 138 percent of the federal poverty level." According to this report, of the 89,605 Montanans enrolled as of December 15, 2017, 61.2 percent of them are the ages between 19 and 39. 

We have a number of positive statistics and opportunities. The low unemployment rate demonstrates how our occupational supply and demand forces are at work. Skilled job seekers are in shorter supply, requiring employers to offer higher wages and benefits. With the demand for specific services and qualified trades, this is the time to obtain additional education and training to expand our state's job growth and encourage business start-ups. Our state's four- and two-year colleges are responding to these trends with targeted programs.

More people working and more cash changing hands in our communities generate more tax revenues for government services and operations. This will promote more economic vibrancy, better job opportunities, and fewer Montanans living in poverty. We can then renew our focus on reliably assisting our neighbors who require Medicaid assistance. 

The legislative process is strengthened with your help. It's my honor to serve as your House District 80 Representative, and to help raise your voice. Thank you.


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