BBER Study: Montana Manufacturing Jobs Grow Faster than National Average

July 22, 2015

MISSOULA – During the past five years, Montana manufacturing employment grew by 8.6 percent, while national manufacturing employment grew by 3.6 percent, according to a report completed by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research in partnership with the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center in Bozeman.

“The State of Montana Manufacturing” study measured jobs from the second quarter of 2009 to the third quarter of 2014. It is available online at

“Manufacturing is one of the driving forces of the Montana economy, accounting for roughly 14 percent of the state’s economic base,” said Paul Polzin, who conducted the study. “Montana manufacturing workers earn among the highest wages in the state.”

The study found:

  • Montana manufacturing is growing faster than the rest of the nation. There are now 3,262 manufacturing companies in Montana.
  • 72.3 percent of Montana manufacturing companies have fewer than 10 employees.
  • Montana has 22,700 full- and part-time manufacturing employees who earn a $44,781 wage on average, compared to an average wage $37,707 for all Montana workers.
  • Montana manufacturing employees can expect to earn approximately 27 percent higher wages than non-manufacturing employees.
  • Other than “miscellaneous manufacturing,” the three largest manufacturing categories in Montana are fabricated metal products with 482 companies, food products with 360, and wood products with 344.
  • Large growth in structural steel manufacturing, small arms manufacturing and ammunition manufacturing account for much of the growth in fabricated metal products.
  • Montana’s beverage manufacturing – which includes alcohol production from breweries, wineries and distilleries – has experienced a large growth. There are now 73 companies manufacturing alcoholic beverages in the state.
  • Montana manufacturing exports have risen from $290 million in 2002 to more than $1 billion in 2014.
  • Montana’s top three export partners are Canada (44 percent), Korea (9 percent) and China (8 percent).

MMEC and BBER prepare “The State of Montana Manufacturing” report each year as a resource for the state.

“We’re pleased to provide the support for this report, which gives Montana’s manufacturers and decision makers important information to gauge the health and future direction of the industry,” said Paddy Fleming, MMEC director.

BBER is the leading collector of primary data that provides analysis of the business, economic and social science sectors in Montana. The bureau has provided information about Montana’s state and local economies for more than 50 years. For more information, visit

Contact: Rob Van Driest, marketing director, UM Bureau of Business and Economic Research, 406-243-5113,