Montana’s Economy Comes Back into Balance

MISSOULA – After the oil and commodity boom, Montana’s economy is evening out.

“The big story is Montana’s economy is coming into balance both geographically and across industries,” said Patrick Barkey, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.

“Three or four years ago, conditions were right for more rapid growth in rural counties –  primarily eastern counties – than in the bigger cities,” Barkey said. “Now the more populous western counties are growing again as migration trends resume and income gains make consumer spending stronger.”

This theme is contained in the latest issue of BBER’s Montana Business Quarterly, a magazine that provides accessible and reliable information about Montana’s business and economic climate.

The latest issue contains a question-and-answer segment with Montana’s top economists, covering a wide range of economic areas such as agriculture, energy, manufacturing, housing, tourism and health care. In that piece, senior economist Kyle Morrill said, “Economic growth, along with low interest rates, is spurring demand for housing” in Montana.

The issue also spotlights the outlooks for farming and ranching, forest products, oil and natural gas, manufacturing, real estate and construction, and technology and innovation. Insights suggest the real estate and construction market remains strong, agriculture prices are falling back to earth, and Montana manufacturing has seen a year of change.

BBER has provided full range of survey services for more than 35 years. Highly skilled bureau researchers use advanced data collection systems and techniques to offer broad-based survey services for public- and private-sector studies, including survey development, data collection, analysis and report writing.

Established in 1948, BBER is the main research unit of UM’s School of Business Administration. It informs Montanans about the economic climate in which they live and work. In addition to conducting its Economic Outlook Seminars across the state each year, BBER researchers engage in a wide range of applied research projects that address different aspects of the state economy, including survey research, economic analysis, health care research, forecasting, wood products research and energy research.

For more information or to subscribe to the Montana Business Quarterly, visit BBER at or call 406-243-5113.


Missoula Economic Partnership | 500 N. Higgins Ave. | Suite 300 | Missoula, Montana 59802 | P: 406.541.6461 | F: 406.541.6464