BBER Survey Finds Montana Manufacturers Generally Optimistic About 2017

April 11, 2017

MISSOULA – A University of Montana survey recently found state manufacturers have a positive outlook for 2017.

The survey was conducted in late 2016 in conjunction with UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research and Montana State University’s Montana Manufacturing Extension Center. Of 250 establishments contacted for the survey, 172 – or 69 percent – responded.

Most respondents said 2017 would be better than 2016, expressing optimism for all economic indicators and among the manufacturing categories. The least optimistic firms were food and beverage manufacturers.

Survey respondents reported that the two most significant challenges facing manufacturers in 2016 were health insurance costs (73 percent) and the availability of qualified workers (66 percent).

 “Manufacturing is a diverse industry. This makes forecasting difficult,” said Paul Polzin, BBER emeritus director. “We used a survey of Montana manufacturers to gauge their opinion of last year, and also what they think will happen to their plants in the future. Generally, Montana manufacturers have a positive outlook for 2017.”

 “This report validates what we have suspected. Montana’s manufacturing industries are growing and they are very optimistic about the future,” said Paddy Fleming, director of the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center at MSU. “Growth in Montana’s manufacturing industries will lead the state to more high-paying jobs, a more diversified economy and an economy that is much less recession prone.”

The Montana Manufacturing Information System, which resides at UM BBER, was created to improve Montana manufac­turers’ knowledge of other manufacturers in the state with whom they may engage in profitable business arrangements. It aims to provide detailed and up-to-date information about manufacturers in Montana, increase exposure of manufacturers’ products and capabilities, and improve decision-making by collecting and reporting accurate information about manufacturing in the state.

For more than 20 years MSU’s Montana Manufacturing Extension Center has helped manufacturers grow, innovate and increase profitability. For more information about the center, visit http://www.montana.edu/mmec/.

Established in 1948, BBER is the main research unit of UM’s School of Business Administration. It informs Montanans about the economic climate in which they live and work. In addition to conducting its Economic Outlook Seminars across the state each year, BBER researchers engage in a wide range of applied research projects that address different aspects of the state economy, including survey research, economic analysis, health care research, forecasting, wood products research and energy research. For more information about BBER, visit http://www.bber.umt.edu/ or call 406-243-5113.

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Contact: Paul Polzin, emeritus director, UM Bureau of Business and Economic Research, 406-243-5113, paul.polzin@business.umt.edu.