Posted: Jun 11, 2013 9:41 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
HELENA - Montana's job market is incredibly diverse. Eastern Montana is booming with unemployment rates down to 2%. At the same time, the northwest portion of the state is dealing with double digit unemployment.
"So at a time when we need to be doing the most diverse amount of work for our economy, our funds are decreasing exponentially," said Pam Bucy, Montana Labor Commissioner.
Due to sequestration, the Montana Department of Labor is dealing with budget cuts ranging from 5-19%, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. And workforce training programs are getting hit the hardest.
"We have lots of folks who are interested in going over to the Bakken. In the press we hear all about all the jobs that are over there," said Deb Chouinard, Helena Job Services. But these workers often times need training. Whether it's a commercial driver's license or computer education local job service centers have been training and retraining workers so they can find a job. So when the money isn't there to fund the programs, classes are cut.
"The impacts are not just being felt by the unemployed or by our veterans; they are also impacting Montana's business community," said Bucy. Because when workers don't have the skills they need, businesses can't succeed and grow. But Bucy says, thankfully, local two-year colleges and nonprofits are helping pick up where the federal government can't afford to.
"We're servicing a lot more customers with a lot less staff," she said.
Bucy says her agency hasn't had to lay off anyone, but when someone retires, they just aren't filling those positions. She says this dynamic is making it harder and harder to put Montanans back to work.