BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The growth of Montana's economy slowed in October after signs of recovery in months prior.

Federal job figures released Friday showed that the growth in non-farm payroll employment was 1,200 jobs, the lowest month of recovery since May, the Billings Gazette reported. There were 470,200 non-farm payroll jobs in the state in October.

About 64,300 non-farm payroll jobs were lost in the state during the first two months of the pandemic, according to the labor bureau. Many of those jobs returned when businesses reopened with some restrictions and widespread stay-at-home orders were lifted in May. That month, 18,500 non-farm jobs returned to the state. In June, another 14,500 jobs returned to the state.

But increases in payroll jobs after June have been more modest. In July, the state added 2,900 jobs and in August Montana added another 3,600 jobs. In September, the state gained 4,400 non-farm payroll jobs.

There were 19,200 fewer payroll jobs in Montana in October than there were in February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics data on employment, hours and earnings. February marked the last month of growth before the start of a recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“If it wasn’t for COVID and the election, this economic story would be the headline,” said Paul Polzin, Bureau of Business and Economic Research director emeritus. “We had a good, strong recovery in May and June, but it has just faded since then.”

The number of farm-related and self-employed workers increase by 2,500 people in Montana in October.