In the most unstable economic condition in decades, Montana’s “capital county” approved raises for government employees because they “showed up for work every day.”
According to Paul Polzin of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Montana “had a good, strong recovery in May and June, but it has just faded since then.” In fact, there are 19,200 fewer payroll jobs in Montana than at the start of the COVID-19 “pandemic.”
Polzin went on, “But if this recession continues and the hurt and the malaise transfers to some of our cyclic industries like construction, this recession might go on for a while.”
So then, there’s no time like the present (apparently) to give government raises. Lewis & Clark County, which contains Montana’s capital city of Helena, just approved a 2.2% raise for elected officials and their staff.
In a statement that has some scratching their heads, County Finance Director Nancy Everson said told the press that “county staff projected little to no immediate declines in revenue and recommended the county commission move ahead with the cost-of-living adjustments.”
Nearly every single job-sector has lost jobs, with the exception of the self-employed and farm labor. Montana’s second-largest industry, tourism, saw a loss of 32 thousand jobs, only some of which have partially been recovered. Other industries, like the energy sector, are completely in the tank.
Governor Bullock said only several days ago, “The circumstances of the past year have presented challenges unparalleled in our lifetime,” speaking of the slow and painful economic recovery from the government over-reaction to coronavirus. Bullock’s own budget proposals recommend taking 75 million from Montana’s strategic crisis cash reserves and using it for essential services in anticipation of a budget shortfall.
Everson explained, “Our employees showed up every single day. We felt like they deserved the raise.”