HELENA - Montana's unemployment rate rose to 5.4 percent in December, up from 4.9 percent in November.
The state Department of Labor said it's the first time since January 2000 that the state's unemployment rate has been above 5 percent. The department also notes that the state's jobless rate is far below the national average of 7.2 percent.
Labor Commissioner Keith Kelly said the recession is reducing demand for Montana's goods and putting people out of work. Kelly said the leisure and hospitality industry added 1,100 jobs, but losses in other industries outweighed those gains.