The past eight years have been filled with
some incredible highs and lows. Montana saw
its lowest unemployment rate in recent history
and what seemed to be an insatiable demand
for timber. Then the 2007 recession hit
crippling the national and the state economy.
Although Montana didn’t escape unscathed,
we were able to weather the storm and outperform
the rest of the nation.
The unemployment trust fund remained
solvent during the economic downturn.
Montana was among a handful of states that
did not have to borrow from the Federal
Government to pay unemployment benefits;
Montana ended fiscal year 2012 with the second
highest ending fund balance in state
history, with more than $453 million dollars
in the bank. The ending fund balance is the
amount of undesignated, unreserved funds
remaining at year end after the state pays its
obligations. Our state is in a great position for
generations to come.
The Treasure State is known for its abundance
of natural resources, and despite the
decrease in demand for timber, many of those
resources are still sought after. The energy
sector along with emerging industries such as
information and advanced technology, health
services, value-added agriculture, tourism
and communications are strong and growing.
As the demand for our natural resources
changes from timber, to oil and gas, wind, and
other forms of green energy, so does the
education needs of our workforce. Our workforce
is our number one resource and as our
economy continues to grow and new jobs
come to the state, it is vital that workers have
the training and education they need for
We have several successful programs that
are geared towards giving Montanans the
training and education they need to succeed.
In fact, some of those programs such as our
On-The-Job Training, Jobs for Montana’s
Graduates, and Pre-Apprenticeship and
Apprenticeship programs have gained
national attention and are setting the standard
for other states.
In this issue of Main Street Montana
focusing on education rather than a
geographical location as we have in the past.
We’ll take a look at the rise of enrollment in
Montana’s two year schools; how programs
like YouthBuild are making a difference in the
lives of our youth; the success of the Governor
and First Lady’s Math and Science Initiative;
how the Incumbent Worker Training Program
is benefiting workers and their employers; the
largest increase of college graduates in the
nation; and we’ll take a nostalgic look at
Montana’s first school.
, Commissioner Montana Department of Labor & Industry