Montana Public Radio

Montana Wages Increasing, But State Faces Labor Shortage

Sep 4, 2018

Governor Steve Bullock says wages and personal income are growing in Montana. But a worker shortage is adding pressure to the state’s labor force.

The Bullock administration’s yearly report card on the state economy highlights Montana as having the 4th fastest wage growth among states in the last decade, along with real GDP growth over that time that outpaced the nation.

However Montana’s economy is facing a looming labor shortage in a wave of Baby Boomer retirements. The Montana Department of Labor and Industry expects nearly a fifth of Montana’s current labor force to retire in the next 10 years.

Governor Bullock says that means more Montanans need to be working and more people need to move to here.

2018 Montana Labor Day Report by the numbers.
Credit Montana Department of Labor and Industry

“If we just look at sheer demographics, and not necessarily the continued growth of Montana businesses. With 100,000 retires and 86,000 folks to fill those slots, we certainly need additional people to come into Montana.”

Montana’s unemployment rate has hovered around 4 percent for the last few years. When it dips lower than 4 percent, which is currently the case, the state’s labor department says businesses have a difficult time finding workers. That can lead to slower economic production.

The Montana labor report also notes that health care is the fastest growing industry in Montana, which is offsetting losses in other industries like mining, utilities and agriculture.

Healthcare accounted for more than 40 percent of the 4,600 jobs added to Montana’s labor force last year.