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Bullock reports on Montana labor

HELENA — The 2018 Montana Labor Day Report to Montanans: 

Unemployment remains low, wages are growing, Montana entrepreneurs are more likely to be successful than businesses nationally, our workforce development initiatives are providing a pipeline of talented workers to Montana businesses, and we’re seeing growth in a diverse set of industries. 

The Labor Day Report is compiled annually by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. This year’s report provides a detailed examination of Montana’s strong economic growth and workforce development during 2017. The report highlights: 

—  Montana entrepreneurs are among the most successful in the nation at starting and developing new businesses, and in the last year, over 2,940 new establishments were formed by Montana entrepreneurs;

—  Real wages increased for Montana families with Montana posting the 4th fastest wage growth among states from 2007-2017;

—  Over the last ten years, Montana’s per capita income has grown rapidly – the 10th fastest increase among states;

—  Roughly 45,000 Montana workers are employed by businesses that have been created in the last five years; 

—  Real GDP growth over the 2007 to 2017 timeframe outpaced the nation, adding an average of roughly 1.3 percent (or $522 million) per year to real GDP. Montana’s total nominal GDP in 2017 was $48 billion;

—  Over the last five years, registered apprenticeships have increased by over 30 percent. There are 1,820 active apprentices today and 21 different apprentice able occupations in healthcare alone. 

Montana’s apprenticeship opportunities continue to grow and expand into diverse occupations and industries. The average wage for apprentices is $20,000 more than the statewide average. And 86 percent of graduates of apprenticeship programs are staying here in Montana and working for a Montana employer. 

   Yet, I recognize there are challenges our economy faces and the promise of economic opportunity is not a reality everywhere in Montana. 

   We must ensure that rural economies, Indian Country, and all Montanans aren’t being left behind. We need continue to remove barriers in rural areas that limit educational opportunities, infrastructure, and decreases our labor pools.

   Over the coming months, Lt. Governor Cooney and I will be engaging in new partnerships with leaders, businesses, and educational institutions in rural communities to look at how we can address these barriers.

   We don’t want any community to be left behind, because if they do, we all fall behind.

   We are focusing our attention on empowering small towns and small communities in Montana to stay ahead.

   While we are presented with these challenges, we also have so much opportunity within our grasp. 

   This week we gather to celebrate the hard-working men and women of Montana. Let’s make a commitment to continue building a more diverse workforce, expanding opportunities, and fueling economic growth in all of our communities. 

   I look forward to continued collaboration with all Montanans as we safeguard economic opportunity for future generations. 

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