(HELENA) — Montana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly by 0.1% to 7.5% in January, despite indications of payroll employment growth.

“Private sector payroll employment continued to grow over the last month, with gains in the Trades and Leisure and Hospitality industries,” says Labor Commissioner Keith Kelly. “As the private sector continues to add jobs, more Montanans are returning to the workforce causing a slight tick upward in the unemployment rate.”

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 3,100 over the month, despite small job losses in the government sector. Slow private sector job growth with public sector job losses has been a trend throughout 2010 that has continued in the first month of 2011. The estimate for the total number of Montanans who are working, including agricultural, payroll, and self-employed workers, was essentially unchanged over the month, increasing by 51 jobs. The labor force, which includes people who are working or looking for work, increased by 480 people on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) again increased by 0.4% in January with price increases in all categories of food, energy, and all other items. The prices for food at home posted the largest increases, while energy prices continued an upward trend. The index for all items less food and energy (also called core inflation) increased by 0.2%.

Each February, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (MT DLI) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recalculates the employment estimates for the prior year in a process called benchmarking. The benchmarking process makes employment estimates more accurate, in addition to smoothing the data series. The benchmarked employment numbers for 2010 are now available on the websites shown below.