DLI Newsletter | August 2022

  • — July 27 2022

Message from the Commissioner:

Dear Reader,

I hope this edition of the DLI Dispatch finds you well and that you are enjoying the closing days of summer here in Montana. Please see below for some of the latest news on how the Department is serving Montana workers and employers.


Laurie Esau
Commissioner of Labor & Industry

Next Week: Annual Montana Arbitration and Labor Relations Conference

Time is running out to register for next week's Arbitration & Labor Relations Conference, which will be held from August 30 - September 1 at the Heritage Inn in Great Falls. 

Participants receive valuable information concerning arbitration preparation, collective bargaining, and other topics relating to labor relations. Skills learned in the training can be practically applied to a variety of workplace settings.

For more information, or to register, click here.

Unemployment Modernization Project Kicks Off


The modernization project for Montana's unemployment insurance benefits system is officially underway! Developers and subject matter experts from DLI's Unemployment Insurance and Technology Services Divisions are hard at work crafting the new system, which is scheduled to go live in the fall of 2023.

 What does this new system mean for Montanans? In short:

  • A smoother, more user-friendly claims filing process that helps Montanans provide the information DLI needs to process their claims more easily.
  • Faster payment of benefits, reducing wait times and helping to ensure Montanans get the benefits they need, when they need them.
  • A safer, more reliable systems architecture that is less prone to malfunctions and more secure against cyberattacks or hackers.

DLI's team is very excited about this new system, which will help us do our job of serving Montana taxpayers better, faster and more efficiently.

DLI Providing Disaster Unemployment Assistance to Flood-Stricken Areas

Earlier this summer, parts of southern Montana were ravaged by severe flooding, leaving dozens of homes destroyed and imperiling the tourism-centric economy in the region. As part of Governor Gianforte's response to the flooding, DLI stood up a Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program to aid Montanans who had lost work due to the flooding. 

Within just a few short days of receiving the required federal approvals, DLI's Unemployment Insurance Division began taking DUA claims from individuals in need. More than 70 claims have been filed so far.

While time is running out to file a claim, you can learn more about DUA here.

Montana's Economy Remains Strong

Montana is in the midst of a historic period of economic growth, and despite some inflation-driven headwinds, the good news keeps coming. Montana's labor force and total employment continued their growth in July, and the state's labor force participation rate is rising -- particularly good news for employers that are seeking to fill needed positions.

DLI Chief Economist Barb Wagner recently joined Governor Greg Gianforte and many of our state’s business and community leaders in Kalispell last month for a Mid-Year Economic Update hosted by the Montana Chamber of Commerce. The Governor shared many economic achievements from 2021, including the fastest GDP and employment growth in 40 years and wage growth over double the normal growth. The governor also announced the success of his initiative to add at least 10,000 high-paying jobs to the Montana economy, with over 13,000 jobs paying over $50,000 added in the last year.

Wagner also shared similar statistics indicating the strong growth in the Montana economy, highlighting how the state’s recovery from the pandemic recession was much stronger and more complete than the national economy. Wagner then delved into the difficult subject of inflation, describing the various causes of the current inflation plaguing Montana’s workers and updates on the efforts to address rising prices. Given Montana’s strong economic growth in 2021, the state is in a strong position to weather any national economic slowdowns, and is expected to continue growth in 2022 (although at a more moderate pace than the record-breaking rate in 2021). Wagner’s presentation can be viewed here

Apprenticeship Continues to Make Headlines

More and more Montanans are realizing the value of Montana's Registered Apprenticeship Program, and news media outlets across the state are taking notice.

Sarah Douglas of Bridger is not only the first woman in Montana to be in a wastewater apprenticeship, but also the one and only wastewater apprentice in the state. You can read her full story in the Billings Gazette.

Zach Allen graduated from Capital High School in Helena with 600 hours towards his apprenticeship. He is now working for Green Electric in Helena and well on his way to completing his 4 year apprenticeship. You can read his full story on KTVH News.

NADC's Annual Economic Development Conference

DLI was on hand as the Native American Development Corporation (NADC) held its 13th annual Economic Development, Procurement, and Healthcare Conference to promote self-sufficiency and economic stability within Native communities across Montana. More than 125 people attended the two and a half-day NADC Conference in Billings, entitled New Beginnings, honor our past to thrive in our future. 

DLI's Sarah Swanson gave an in-depth presentation on the Department's work to improve skills-based learning and help prepare the next generation of Montana workers to enter the labor force. 

Jason Swant, DLI's Workers’ Compensation Section manager, also provided information on workers’ compensation coverage in Indian Country. Tribal contractors who have workers compensation questions can contact the Workers’ Compensation Section at (406) 444-6543.

Fall ABC Clinics Coming Soon

Our fall series of Assistance for Business Clinics kick off this September in Kalispell. 

These in-person information sessions provide business owners, accountants, bookkeepers, human resource professionals and attorneys with updated information on various topics important to businesses of all sizes. 

Topics include unemployment insurance tax requirements, workers’ compensation coverage, Independent Contractor regulations, tax incentives, minimum wage and overtime rules, new hire reporting, and USERRA laws and regulations. To find a clinic near you click here

From the Governor's Office of Community Service

Looking to make a positive impact in your community while expanding your horizons? Explore what inspires you by engaging in meaningful service!

AmeriCorps is a network of programs meeting community needs across the country. As an AmeriCorps member you can serve in schools, support nonprofits, make trails, build houses, or anything in between. No matter your interest, there’s an AmeriCorps opportunity for you.

Learn More

Contact Sam Loveridge: Public Information Officer, Department of Labor and Industry
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