The opening of new companies has been driving Montana manufacturing since 2010, keeping the rate of growth in manufacturing above the national average ever since the recovery of the Great Recession began in 2010. Montana manufacturing employment grew at 4 - 5 percent annually while the US was posting increases in the 2-3 percent range, according to economist Paul Polzin in presenting at the Bureau of Business and Research’s annual outlook seminars, which were held across the state.
Its rate of growth is projected to continue in 2017 at about the same two percent it has posted over the past couple of years.
Fabricated metal and beverage manufacturing have been among the state’s standouts. Fabricated metal products include everything from metal buildings to hunting knives. The popularity of distilleries, wineries and breweries is the new push in beverage manufacturing.
The number of manufacturing establishments in fabricated metal products rose from 178 in 2010 to 231 in 2015, accounting for 43 percent of all of the growth in manufacturing overall. Beverage producers increased in number by 47 establishments. The increase in establishments of the two industries combined accounted for 81 percent of all of manufacturing growth in the state during those years.
Manufacturing employs about 24,000 people in Montana, full and part-time. Most manufacturing jobs are higher paying and accounts for 16 percent of the state’s economic base.
Despite more than a decade of permanent plant closures due to the declining availability of saw timber, wood products remains the state’s largest manufacturing sector as measured by employment. The fabricated metal products industry is second largest.
Oil refining, located primarily in Billings and Great Falls, “punches above its weight,” says Polzin, because of “the very high wages paid.” It employs roughly 1,200 workers, about the same as the beverage industry, but total wages are the largest of all manufacturing industries.

Market Update

1 DOW 20,596.72
-59.86 (-0.29%)    
2 S&P 2,343.98
-1.98 (-0.08%)    
3 NASDAQ 5,828.74
+11.04 (0.19%)    
4 MDU 27.17
+0.07 (0.26%)    
5 SWC 17.40
-0.01 (-0.06%)    
6 EBMT 19.85
-0.30 (-1.49%)    
7 FIBK 39.15
+0.30 (0.77%)    
8 GBCI 32.93
+0.22 (0.67%)