By Michael Howell
The Hamilton Job Service is one of four Job Service locations around the state that will be closing its doors on October 31. Service centers in Anaconda, Dillon and Lewiston are also closing. These closures were preceded this spring by the closing of Job Service centers in Shelby, Livingston and Glasgow. Sixteen employees will lose their jobs in the latest round of closures, saving the agency an estimated $800,000.
According to state spokesperson Jake Troyer, the closures are the result of a long trend in declining federal funds that is affecting state agencies across the country. He said in Montana the Workforce Management Division’s budget has seen a 55% reduction since 2002, dropping from $33 million in 2002 to $15 million over the last fifteen years.
The relentless reduction in funds led the agency to do a review of its service centers around the state examining their infrastructure, the amount of program use and the number of people employed. According to Troyer, the Hamilton Job Service ranked seventh out of 20 in customer use, ninth out of 20 in jobs posted, and ninth out of 20 in enrollments.
“Our intention is not to leave the communities without workforce management services,” said Troyer. He said much of the work was already being done on-line and that will continue. He said Ravalli County people needing the service can go to the Missoula office for help.
“We are looking for some way to maintain our presence in Hamilton,” said Troyer. He said some partnerships have been developed elsewhere to continue providing services. He said in Lewistown, the Workforce Management Services is sharing an employee with Region 6 Human Resource Development Council in order to keep a presence in that community.
Troyer said that people in Ravalli County can use the agency’s on-line services at https://app.mt.gov/ui4u/index. Other online services are available at https://jobs.mt.gov/jobs/home.seek.