Gov. Bullock Touts Economic Growth in Annual Report

Montana has been adding jobs, increasing personal wealth in decade since recession

By Andy Viano
Gov. Steve Bullock discusses the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative at Pyramid Mountain Lumber in Seeley Lake on Aug. 16, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Montana’s economy is among the most robust in the country, according to a report issued by the office of Gov. Steve Bullock on Sept. 2.

The annual Labor Day Report boasts of 10 years of broad economic expansion in the state, including job and wage growth, an increasing gross domestic product, a large skilled labor force, and high marks in entrepreneurship.

“As we present this report to Montanans, we mark the longest economic expansion in recorded U.S. history,” Gov. Bullock wrote in a press release. “This long period of growth has made a meaningful difference to Montana families.”

The data compiled in the report paints a rosy picture of the Montana economy, with wage and job growth playing a part in the state’s GDP adding $6.3 billion since “the recession ended” in June 2009. The GDP has increased in nine of the last 10 years and added approximately $400 million from 2017 to 2018.

Montana had an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent in July, below the national average of 3.7 percent, and that rate has remained low even as the state has added jobs. The Labor Day Report notes that the state has added 46,000 jobs since June 2009 and around 5,000 jobs in the last 12 months. The state’s workforce is also at its highest reported level, with 530,000 people working or seeking work in the state last year, in part because of a rapid rise in population that ranks Montana as the 14th-fastest growing state with more than 11,000 people moving here annually.

In addition to job growth, Montanans are making $10,000 more in annual wages today than they were in 2009, a growth rate that ranks sixth among all 50 states. The median household income in Montana rose to $55,386 in 2017, a best-in-the-nation 6.7 percent rise from the prior year. Montana workers also ranked high in education, with the third-highest percentage of 25-and-older people with a high school diploma or equivalency and 65 percent of people having at least some post-secondary education. Montana also has the highest rate of business ownership in the country and had the 14th-most business startups in the nation in 2018.

Bullock, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Galen Hollenbaugh presented the report on Sept. 2 at Helena College’s Airport Campus. To read the report in its entirety, click here.

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