Montana's unemployment rate went down in January, dropping by one-tenth, to 5.3 percent.

The January numbers are being released a few months late so that economists could set new benchmarks for the year and reassess 2013, which also performed better than original data indicated.

"We're off to a really great start in 2014," said Montana Department of Labor and Industry Senior Economist Barbara Wagner. "January numbers suggest that we added like 2,000 jobs in January, which is a ton. We're usually right around 1,000 jobs plus-or-minus every month, and 2,000 jobs shows really strong job growth."

The heavy snow in January may have been the key game changer in the Montana job market.

"We had a lot of jobs being added in the leisure and hospitality industry," Wagner said. "That's a tricky one because it includes ski resorts which depend on the weather. We had a great January for snow, which led to a lot of people skiing. That industry fluctuates a lot, because it is so dependent on the weather."

The new numbers show that Missoula county had job growth of 2.9%, which is about 1,500 jobs. Ravalli County had more mixed results, but had an uptick of about 600 jobs.


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