Montana State University

Montana’s manufacturing employment grows faster than national manufacturing employment

July 20, 2015 -- MSU News Service

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Employment in Montana’s manufacturing sector has grown at a faster rate than national manufacturing employment during a five year period between 2009 and 2014, according to the latest annual report from Montana State University’s Montana Manufacturing Extension Center.

From the second quarter of 2009 to the third quarter of 2014, Montana manufacturing employment grew by 8.6 percent, while national manufacturing employment grew at only 3.6 percent.

“The State of Montana Manufacturing” is published annually by MMEC, which has provided technical assistance to more than 1,000 clients from nearly every Montana county since its inception in 1996.

“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, director of MSU’s MMEC.

As part of a long-term partnership, the center contracts annually with the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research for the production of the report, which can be downloaded for free at

This year’s report shows:

  • 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.
  • There are 22,700 full and part-time manufacturing employees in Montana earning an average wage of $44,781, as compared to an average wage in Montana of $37,707 for all workers.
  • Montana manufacturing employees can expect to earn approximately 27 percent higher wages than non-manufacturing employees.
  • Other than miscellaneous manufacturing, the three largest industries in terms of number of manufacturing companies in Montana are: fabricated metal products (482), food products (360) and wood products (344).
  • Large growth in structural steel manufacturing, small arms manufacturing and ammunition manufacturing account for much of the growth in fabricated metal products. 
  • There has also been large growth in beverage manufacturing, which includes alcohol manufacturing from breweries, wineries and distilleries. There are now 73 companies in Montana that manufacture alcoholic beverages. 

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 (nine percent) and China (eight percent).

Part of MSU’s College of Engineering, MMEC is a resource for Montana manufacturers seeking assistance with business management, facility planning, lean enterprise, quality systems, marketing and business development, as well as leadership training and strategic planning. The center can be found online at:

Contact: Paddy Fleming, director MSU Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, 406-994-3812,