Volume 54, Number 1, Spring  2016

Q & A with Montana's Top Economists & Industry Experts


Patrick Barkey, Paul E. Polzin, George Haynes, Terry Johnson, Steven W. Hayes, Todd A. Morgan, Kyle Morrill, Norma P. Nickerson

The big story is Montana's economy coming into balance; both geographically and across industries. Three or four years ago, commodity prices were high and oil was booming. That, along with high agriculture prices, made for faster growth in rural counties, primarily eastern counties, rather than in bigger cities.

Explaining the Outmigration of Montana's College-Educated Workers


Bryce Ward

Montanans love Montana. A recent Gallup poll asked whether or not respondents believed that their state was the best, or one of the best, states in which to live. 77 percent of Montanans chose their home state. For one group, though, Montana appears less desirable: the college-educated, and particularly the young and college-educated.

Forest Products

Challenges and Changes


Todd A. Morgan, Steven W. Hayes, Colin B. Sorenson and Chelsea McIver

2015 was a year of challenges and disappointments for wood products markets. New home starts in the U.S. failed to materialize at predicted levels and the Chinese economy?s slowdown reduced exports of logs, lumber, and other wood products from U.S. and Canadian producers to Asia.

Technology & Innovation

Faster Growth for High-Tech


Christina Quick Henderson

In 2015, a University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) survey of Montana High Tech Business Alliance (MHTBA) members captured for the first time data measuring the size and growth potential of Montana?s high tech sector.

Oil & Natural Gas

A New Technology Paradigm?


Terry Johnson and Bill Whitsitt

The U.S. oil and natural gas industries had a tough year in 2015. Excesses in world production, political unrest and new technologies all contributed to the variability in oil, and to some degree, natural gas prices.


A Year of Change


Todd A. Morgan, Colin B. Sorenson and Charles E. Keegan

After four consecutive years of growth, it appears that 2015 was the first year that Montana saw a decline in manufacturing jobs. Montana?s manufacturing sector had experienced steady gains since the Great Recession ended.

Real Estate & Construction

Market Remains Strong


Sue Larew & Paul Olsen

In spite of the global financial markets and economic concerns, the U.S. economy continues to grow. When it comes to determining the strength of the economy, the housing market is a true litmus test of the economic health of a community.

Statewide Economic Performance

A Year of Strong Growth


Patrick M. Barkey

If you pay close attention, you will notice that almost all economic forecasts have two things in common ? first, they are optimistic. Recessions are much less common than growth, after all. But those forecasts are usually accompanied by a second thing ? a long list of problems that could make those optimistic forecasts go bad; such as a downturn in energy, mining and farming businesses. But other parts of Montana?s economy remained strong in 2015 and the state went on to post a good year.

Farming and Ranching

Prices Fall Back to Earth


George Haynes, Kate Fuller and Vincent Smith

Montana small grains and corn producers experienced lower prices and revenues, while the livestock sector enjoyed a period of profitability in 2015. Favorable weather over the summer resulted in average or relatively good yields for many wheat, barley and hay producers throughout most of Montana.