Populated parts of Montana slower to recover economically from COVID-19

Posted at 1:36 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 11:19:31-04

KALISPELL — Economists are finding that populated areas of Montana are slower to recover economically from the CVOVID-19 pandemic.

Montana Department of Labor and Industries chief economist Barbra Wagner told MTN News that the state's economy as a whole is recovering faster from coronavirus than the rest of the country.

She explained that from April to May Montana gained 17,330 Montanans returned to work but in populated parts of Montana -- like the Flathead Valley -- extra caution is needed moving forward.

The Flathead Valley's unemployment was higher than the rest of the state at 16% compared to a statewide 11% with Wagner noting that one reason is due to the Flathead's dependency on tourism.

"More rural areas have had lower spread simply because they don't have as many people in one area," she said. "In the state of Montana and in most economies the retail jobs and the leisure activities, what tourism falls into tend to be concentrated in the larger cities."

Wagner says another reason for a dip in the more populated areas is because of a lack of travel. She noted that people living in rural areas are not traveling to places like the Flathead for business due to COVID-19 concerns.

She estimates it could be until 2023 before Montana makes a full economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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