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Job growth in Helena slow but steady

HELENA Helena has weathered the recession better than much of the state because of the stability provided by government jobs, which make up about 30 percent of Lewis and Clark County's workforce and as much as 70 percent of the county's economic base, data shows.But because growth in the public sector has slowed considerably since the peak of the recession, the Queen City and surrounding area's economy has been slower to pick up than other parts of Montana.Lewis and Clark County's October unemployment rate was 4.2 percent "a double edged sword," said Cathy Burwell, president of the Helena Area Chamber of Commerce. Because the "Oxandrolone Powder India" number of those Buy Anadrol Cheap unemployed in the county is so low, the local pool of qualified applicants may not be meeting employers' demand, slowing some businesses' growth."What ends up happening is they (employers) start stealing other people's good help and then you get this big shift paradigm going on where good workers are going to different places," Burwell said.Deena Korting, the president and CEO of A2Z Staffing Solutions in Helena, said the shortage of well qualified workers in the Helena area is forcing some employers to pay their workers more. Many of the company's top job seekers are "passive applicants," she said, meaning they are well qualified and already employed but open to the Buy Cheap Jintropin Online possibility of a better job."Only a few years ago, when unemployment was at its highest, "Oxandrolone Powder India" employers could pay their workers less because there was so much competition between job seekers," said Anna Kazmieroski, vice president and COO of A2Z. "Now it's shifting again. You will not find the best, cream of the crop applicants for mediocre pay.""What clearly makes Lewis and Clark (County) tick is state and federal jobs," said Patrick Barkey, director of the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Anadrol 50 Mg A Day Research. census. Since 2010, government jobs have been on a decline," said Barbara Wagner, a senior economist with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. From second quarter 2011 to second quarter 2012, Lewis and Clark County has lost about 1.6 percent of the state government workforce, she said."That's a pretty sizable decrease, but that's what we expect to happen," Wagner said.Government job growth in Helena, as in most government towns, has historically run counter cyclical to job growth in the private sector, she said.Tightening of the government purse strings both at the state and federal level also has a huge impact on government job growth in Helena, making the so called "fiscal cliff" and upcoming legislative sessioncritical tofuture government job growth within the county, Wagner said.The fact that state employees have gone so long without a raise is hurting the local economy, Burwell said."It's a big economic impact to our community. When they don't get a raise, it's $6 (million) to $8 million a year that doesn't come into our economy," she said.Government jobs are unlikely to be a significant source 4-chlorodehydromethyltestosteron of economic growth in 2013, said Paul Polzin, director Deca Durabolin For Sale Canada emeritus of "Buy Cheap Jintropin Online" the Bureau of Business and Economic Research."The southwest region, which includes Helena, has been doing really, really well as we've exited the recession, and a lot of the growth is in Helena, and it's not coming from government," Wagner said.Construction is one area that is regainingstrength statewide and in Helena, she said. By the middle of the year, the city had seen at least $27 million in commercial developments, according to the chamber of commerce."Drive around town there's a lot of projects going on," Burwell said. "Now that we have the Custer interchange that was huge for us."But the housing industry in Helena is still struggling, she said. And despite these recent developments, construction business is nowhere near what it was before the onset of the recession, Wagner said. Helena's construction growth rates, while good, are not as high as in other parts of the state.The county started gaining construction jobs in the last quarter of 2011, then stayed steady in the first quarter of 2012 and grew by about 60 jobs in the second quarter of 2012, Wagner said.Even though construction is expected to be one of the fastest growing industries in Montana over the next 10 years, it will likely be 2021 before the number of pre recession construction jobs is reached, she said.The health care industry has stayed strong through the recession and will continue to grow, Wagner said."It's really been the place where the jobs are at. They're still looking for workers. That's true for Helena as well," she said.St. Peter's Hospital in Helena, which employees 1,175 people, has hired about 250 people in the past year, said Peggy Stebbins, director of public relations and marketing for the hospital.How many people the hospital hires in the next year depends on how many employees leave, how many physicians are hired, how many positions are created and how the hospital is impacted by health care legislation, she said.Both Korting and Kazmieroski say they have seen increased demand for a wide range of medical personnel in the area and expect that trend to continue for the foreseeable future.They also see an increasing demand for financial professionals, they said, created by the need to staff several new banks and credit unions, including Stockman Bank, First Interstate Bank and Helena Community Credit Union, which have all added or are constructing branches in Helena.