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Volume 47, Number 1, Spring  2009

Montana's Transportation Future

Opportunities Around the Next Curve


Steve Albert and Jaydeep Chaudhari

With innovations in technology and increasing globalization affecting all aspects of life, we should be aware that the demands on highways, railroads, airports, pipelines and other infrastructure in rural Montana are growing and changing. Through advanced technologies, expanded service, and regional coordination, we can address these transportation challenges.


How Long and How Deep?


Paul E. Polzin

What started as a real estate bubble bursting, with an associated financial industry crisis, has now morphed into an economy-wide (and even a worldwide) recession. Since the official beginning was pegged as December 2007, this recession will probably be one of the longest and deepest since World War II.

The Montana Outlook

Changing Conditions Lead to Changed Forecast


Paul E. Polzin

Montana's economic outlook has darkened during the past year as a national economic slowdown concentrated in a few industries spread to more and more sectors. The Bureau slightly lowered its forecast at midyear 2008 to account for the deterioration then present. The current forecast calls for barely positive growth in 2009, with modest accelerations to 2.2 percent in 2012.

Montana Home Sales


Scott Rickard

From its peak in 2005 to 2006, the Montana housing market has slowed considerably, but in general, home prices continue to hold. A few of the counties that saw the most rapid run-up in sales and prices are now experiencing price declines, but overall, the value of typical Montana homes continues to grow.

Travel and Recreation

Outlook and Trends


Norma Polovitz Nickerson

In 2008, nonresident visitor numbers were down in Montana, though some areas saw an influx of Canadian and international visitors. Airline deboardings increased 2.9 percent and skier visits in the state were up 14.5 percent. In 2009, With unemployment on the rise, an uncertain economic recovery, and virtually a global recession, travel to Montana and elsewhere will not grow in and instead will likely decline.

Expanding Health Insurance Coverage


Patrick M. Barkey

Expectations of significant reform to health care are higher today than at any time since the first Clinton administration. But if curing the ills of our health care system were easy, it would be done by now. Finding the consensus - and the money - that is needed to changes to the structure of health care delivery and finance remains, as always, an obstacle to change.

Outlook for Montana Agriculture


George Haynes

Montana's agricultural sector had an excellent year, producing an estimated $3.2 billion of sales in 2008 and an estimated $1 billion in net farm income. The 2009 Montana agricultural outlook for both crops and livestock is promising with lower, but still relatively strong, prices for crops and livestock.

Montana's Manufacturing Industry


Todd A. Morgan, Charles E. Keegan III, Jason P. Brandt

After four successive years of growth, Montana manufacturers saw a decline in activity during 2008. The 2009 outlook is for declines in Montana manufacturing activity and related employment, with expectations that the United States and other major economies will remain weak through 2009.

Montana's Forest Products Industry

Current Conditions and 2009 Forecast


Todd A. Morgan and Charles E. Keegan III

During 2008, Montana's forest products industry was negatively impacted not only by a third weak year in the U.S. housing industry but by the deepening financial crisis. Most of Montana's forest products industry executives are pessimistic about 2009. Whether or not the industry can once again thrive depends on two key factors: its ability to ride out the current situation and, when market conditions eventually improve, the state's local timber availability.