Feral pigs are coming! And other highlights of the 2020 Economic Outlook Seminar


Each year, George Haynes and I head out on the road during January – March with the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) for a series of economic outlook seminars.  George and I trade off to give the ag outlook part of those seminars, which cover the overall U.S. and Montana economies, as well as Montana’s key industries.

Here are some highlights from this year:

The labor market is tightening. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find workers, especially for construction jobs.  There’s now fewer than one unemployed worker for each job opening in the U.S.

The U.S. economy continues to grow. But there are winners and losers behind that story.  Consumer spending is up, but manufacturing is down.

Montana’s economy is growing, too, but with key challenges. Montana’s economy grew by 3.3% in 2019, but BBER predicts that to slow over the next several years.  Decline in coal industries, ag prices, and trade disputes all play a role in the headwinds the economy is facing.

People are (still) moving to Montana.  Net in-migration is positive, as it is all over the west.

Tourism visits are up, once again.  64% of all tourism in the state happens in and around Glacier and Yellowstone, and crowding is becoming an issue.

Feral pigs are coming!  There’s increasing concern about feral pigs in the state and the effect they will have on tourist destinations, agriculture, and other resources.   

Home prices are up, especially in lower tiers.  Construction permits have been relatively flat over the last couple of years as demand remains strong in more urban areas.

High tech is growing really fast.  Last year brought in over $2 billion in revenue and the industry is growing at twice the speed of the Montana economy.

Learn lots more and come visit us when we are in your area!  Read more here.


About Author

Kate Binzen Fuller is an assistant professor and extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University. She holds an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis. Her extension and research program focuses on the economics of farm management decisions, including USDA programs and policies, pest and disease responses, and issues surrounding leasing and land values. Kate’s extension program takes her on the road often, resulting in a rapidly expanding knowledge and appreciation for Montana’s interstates, highways, and (especially) gravel roads.

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