BILLINGS – Montana’s economic growth in 2018 is focused on a strong Bozeman and Missoula market, with Yellowstone County and the eastern third of the state stagnant.
The University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research presented its annual report to the Billings business community on Tuesday.
It’s not doom and gloom for Yellowstone County, but several factors are keeping growth at a slow pace.
"Yellowstone county serves a four state area and when you look at the geography being served, the energy patched, ag centers even the transportation industries have cooled off quite a bit relative to where things were a few years ago," said Patrick Barkey, director of the UM business bureau.
Gallatin County is the strongest region for job growth in the past year, adding almost 2,500 jobs in 2017.
Both Flathead County and Missoula County added over 1,000 jobs.
By contrast, the state’s largest county added less than 500 jobs, and the outlook shows slow growth in Yellowstone County this year.
Payroll wages are following suit.
Wages in Gallatin County are up over 5 percent, while Yellowstone County actually saw a dip in wages over the year.
The labor market remains tight in Montana. There are not enough employees to fill job openings.