Montana State University

MSU/UM report signals positive trend for Montana manufacturing

April 7, 2017 -- MSU News Service

Photo courtesy Bureau of Business and Economic Research, University of Montana.

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Tel: (406) 994-4571

A report commissioned by the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center at Montana State University indicates positive developments in the state’s manufacturing industry last year and gives a generally optimistic forecast for that sector in 2017.

The 2016 Montana Manufacturers Survey, prepared by University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, summarizes responses to more than a dozen questions posed to 172 manufacturing businesses in Montana.

According to the report, in 2016:

  • Gross sales increased for 37 percent of respondents, while sales decreased for 29 percent and remained unchanged for 34 percent.
  • Production increased for 40 percent of respondents and decreased for 30 percent.
  • Employment increased for 28 percent of respondents and decreased for 19 percent.

Survey respondents reported that the two most significant challenges facing manufacturing businesses were health insurance costs (73 percent) and finding qualified workers (66 percent).

According to the report, Montana manufacturers are generally optimistic about 2017:

  • Only 8 percent of respondents expect 2017 to be worse than 2016, while 55 percent expect it to be better for their business.
  • The majority (60 percent) of respondents expect production to increase.
  • The majority (64 percent) of respondents said they expect their gross sales to increase.

UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research has conducted the Montana Manufacturers Survey each year since 1999. Respondents are part of the Montana Manufacturing Information System, an information-sharing network of businesses that has been jointly developed by UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, MSU’s Montana Manufacturing Extension Center and the Montana Department of Commerce.

In 2016, Montana manufacturing accounted for an estimated 16 percent of the state’s economic activity, employed roughly 24,500 workers and shipped products worth $9.7 billion, according to the report.

Contact: Paddy Fleming, Montana Manufacturing Extension Center,, (406) 994-3812.