Montana Public Radio

University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research

Hearing room at the Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Montana’s governor is calling this "Tax Reform Week." Gov. Greg Gianforte’s proposals to change a slew of tax policies for residents and businesses got their first hearing in the state Legislature. An income tax cut proposal received the most debate Thursday morning. 

Montana’s governor says the state’s employment rate is in a healthier place compared to many other states after the coronavirus pandemic led to government mandated business closures earlier this year.

Some economists say it’s too soon to draw conclusions.

Governor Steve Bullock says Montana Department of Labor and Industry data show that the state has the sixth fastest job bounce back in the country.

Dec. 2019 vs. April 2020 Forecast Comparison - Total Employment (thousands).
UM Bureau of Business and Economic Research

An economic downturn of greater magnitude than that seen in 2008 recession could be felt in Montana in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to a preliminary analysis from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.

The report released Tuesday forecasts the Montana economy in 2020 could see employment drop 7.3 percent, a loss of more than 50,000 jobs.

Brigitta Miranda-Freer
Courtesy of Brigitta Miranda-Freer

Imagine pulling out a new board game's instructions and discovering that the normally skinny pamphlet runs thousands of pages and spells out the rules of the game from soup to nuts. That's what an international trade agreement looks like: it's comprehensive, it's years in the making, and millions of people's livelihoods depend on it.

 


Montana’s most populated county may be reaching an economic equilibrium following a drop in oil prices in 2014 thanks to a strong base of manufacturing support services. 

iStock

Researchers say government activity in Lewis and Clark County continues to insulate the area from major economic swings. But an outlook released Tuesday by University of Montana analysts shows wage growth in the area lags behind the state as a whole.


A Montana timber company on Jan. 13 announced indefinitely closing one of its two sawmills, citing chronic timber supply problems due to litigation. Economists say lawsuits are only partly to blame.

Housing costs in Montana relative to the U.S. and other Western states.
BBER analysis of 2016 American Community Survey (1-year). / http://www.bber.umt.edu/pubs/seminars/2018/EconRpt2018.pdf

Housing prices in Montana continue to rise, but how affordable housing looks depends a lot on where you stand. Economists from the University of Montana are focusing on affordable housing in their annual series of economic outlook seminars. The first was in Helena Tuesday, nine more are scheduled across the state between now and mid-March.

Share of working age populatin who own a business as their main job.
2017 Kauffman Index of Mainstreet Entrepreneurship


Montana leads the country in entrepreneurship, according to a new study by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research

Power plant at Colstrip, MT.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

A new study funded in part by the coal industry says shutting down of Colstrip’s two newer, larger coal-fired electricity generators in the next decade could have a huge impact statewide.

Colstrip’s two older units, 1 and 2, will shut down no later than July 2022 because of a Clean Air Act lawsuit settlement. But the future of the newer units, 3 and 4, remains uncertain.

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