BBER Report Indicates Positive Trends in Montana’s Manufacturing Sector

August 01, 2017

MISSOULA – The number of jobs that the manufacturing sector provides in Montana has increased at a rate more than double the national rate, according to a new report by the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research. The annual report was commissioned by the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center at Montana State University. BBER has conducted the study for the MMEC since 2001.

“Manufacturing operations in Montana do not fit the traditional stereotype,” said Paul Polzin, BBER emeritus director. “These are not a bunch of large facilities, but are a diverse group of smaller-scale operations.”

According to the 2017 State of Montana Manufacturing Report, manufacturing employment increased 18.3 percent the past seven years to19,400 jobs.

The report suggests a generally positive trend in its overview of manufacturing in the state. According to the report:

  • Manufacturing accounts for 27.6 percent of Montana’s gross product, up from 25.8 percent in 1997. Montana ranks 32nd in the country according to that figure.
  • Company earnings in manufacturing increased 14.1 percent since 2010.
  • Manufacturing workers earned an average of $47,227 in 2015, which is 17.5 percent higher than the average Montana worker’s wages.
  • The employment multiplier for Montana manufacturing is just over three and a half, meaning that for every new manufacturing job another two and a half jobs are created in industries and services that support manufacturing.
  • There were 3,344 manufacturing establishments operating in Montana in 2015. The largest category among those was miscellaneous manufacturing, with 691 establishments. The next largest categories were fabricated metal manufacturing at 493 and food products at 370.
  • Most Montana manufacturers are small businesses: 85 percent have fewer than 20 employees.
  • The two highest earning Montana manufacturing industries in 2015 were associated with coal and crude oil processing (17.9 percent of total earnings) and wood products processing (15.1 percent).
  • The production of alcoholic beverages is a rapidly growing industry in Montana. Distilleries, wineries and breweries employed 711 people in 2015, up from 267 in 2011.

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. It has published the Montana Business Quarterly since 1949.

For more information or to subscribe to the Montana Business Quarterly, visit BBER at or call 406-243-5113.


Contact: Paul Pozlin, emeritus director, UM Bureau of Business and Economic Research, 406-243-5113,