- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana’s unemployment rate held steady at 5.2 percent for past three months, down from 5.7 percent at the beginning of 2013.

Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy said Tuesday the state starts 2014 in a position of strength, with a low unemployment rate and steady job growth.

Total employment, including payroll employment along with agricultural and self-employed workers, increased by nearly 1,400 jobs in December.

The state Labor Department says preliminary data indicates job growth was slower in 2013 than in 2012, with private job growth remaining strong but job losses in the government sector slowing total job growth. Final numbers will be available in February.

The national unemployment rate continued to fall in December, moving down three-tenths of a percentage point to 6.7 percent.

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