In December, the fourth month in a row, Montana's jobless rate declined.
The state's unemployment rate went down from 7.1 percent in November to 6.8 percent in December.
The national unemployment rate has declined steadily since August, registering at 8.5 percent in December.
"Montana's employment growth has gained momentum in the last half of 2011, posting large job gains and a sizable drop in the unemployment rate, due in part to the strong agriculture economy and the oil activity on the eastern part of the state, " said Labor Commissioner Keith Kelly. "The strong employment growth in the second half of the year improves our outlook for 2012 and signals an even stronger economy ahead. "
Over the past month, the arts, entertainment and recreation industry lost of 800 jobs, likely due to the slow start of the winter season, which countered job gains in other industries. The unemployment rate along the Hi-Line also declined in December, following a four-month trend: