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Labor Day Report: Montana's economy continues steady growth

Posted at 6:25 PM, Sep 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-03 22:09:41-04

According to the 2019 Labor Day Report, Montana has continued to see steady economic growth since the recession ended in 2009.

Gov. Steve Bullock, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, Galen Hollenbaugh of the Department of Labor and Industry and Helena College Dean Laura Vosejpka presented the report at Helena College’s Airport Campus on September 3.

5,000 jobs were added last year and the state added around $400 million in real GDP-- the total value of goods produced and services provided-- from 2017 to 2018.

Montanans also saw a growth in annual wages by 3.2 percent last year.

Bullock said the report is something to celebrate.

“As we present this report to Montanans, we mark the longest economic expansion in recorded U.S. history – a decade since the recession ended in June 2009,” said Bullock. “This long period of growth has made a meaningful difference to Montana families who have experienced wage growth, a strong entrepreneurial climate, and a wealth of opportunities to continue their education or workforce training.”

Montana faces challenges that could have significant impacts on the state’s economy in the future.

A low unemployment rate, 3.4 percent, makes it more difficult to recruit new workers.

The state is also currently facing an aging workforce with an estimated 100,000 workers expected to leave the workforce in the next ten years, and only 90,000 entering the workforce in state to replace them.

“However, in this report it shows we have about 11,000 folks coming into the state to fill these jobs,” explained Hollenbaugh. “So we’re just about getting there to fill all of the jobs that are coming open.”

Access to affordable housing in the state also poses a challenge.

“With wages starting to increase that does make it much more possible,” said Bullock, “but it is something we need to continue to focus on.”

Bullock also noted incentivizing apprenticeship and encouraging employers to offer work-based learning opportunities is one way Montana’s economy will remain strong.

“The most important thing that we can do is what we’re doing right here, and that’s investing in our future leaders,” said Bullock. “An educated and skilled workforce will help ensure Montana remains the best place in the nation to find a career, to work, to live and raise a family. “

The Labor Day Report is compiled annually by the Montana Department of Labor & Industry. It provides a detailed examination at the economic performance of the state as measured by growth indicators such as such as employment, income, and workforce training.

The full Labor Day Report can be found here.