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The Montana economy will likely experience a slow pace of growth in the second half of 2010, according to projections presented by First Interstate Bank Staff Economist and Senior Investment Manager, Rick McCann. “Our region continues to fare better than the national economy but most certainly has not escaped unharmed during this “Great Recession,” said McCann.
“We are a few years away from economic recovery if it were growing normally,” said McCann, but while the economy is growing its growing much slower than normal.
“Consumer confidence is the key,” said McCann, but that won’t come until there are jobs.
He went on to say, “Montana’s economy has shown relatively better resilience to many of the factors that have severely damaged the U.S. domestic economy. It is certainly not that we have missed all of the pain, but our troubling circumstances seem to be centered in a few specific regional markets, while the rest of the state’s economy is plodding along (slower than desired, but positive) and providing some small level of hope to those areas of increased challenges within the state.”
McCann stated that Montana’s consumers and businesses have adjusted to the dramatically changed economic environment pretty well; Montana didn’t miss the recessionary downshift, but did lag in terms of timing and depth in most of our communities when compared to the national U.S. economic factors.
McCann noted that most businesses are, in fact, in very good financial shape. They have less debt, but they won’t grow until consumer confidence returns.
“Montana certainly did not completely escape the housing problems affecting the rest of the nation. However, many of our local markets did not experience the extreme level of real estate value growth and thus have not suffered the same degree of value loss as we’ve viewed in our most distressed domestic real estate markets like Arizona, Nevada and Florida.”
McCann reported that Montana’s unemployment rate continues to be significantly better than the national rate of unemployment currently at about 7.6 percent statewide. But he noted that many of our state’s regional markets are still reflecting unemployment rates in the 5-6 percent range.
Nationally, there are eight million people without jobs who were working three years ago, he said.
The Big Sky Business Journal
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Billings, MT 59103