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Montana economic outlook seminar set to hit the road   

BBER is touring 9 cities across the Montana 
Posted at 2:52 PM, Jan 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-20 16:52:23-05

MISSOULA - Inflation, recession, strained labor markets and a new wave of in-migration to Montana will be the focus of an upcoming seminar.

The 2023 Economic Outlook Seminar will launch next week and continue through mid-March in nine Montana cities.

University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) director Patrick Barkey notes in a news release that the state's economy saw "blistering growth" in 2022, but was also hit by the rapid rise of interest rates, inflation and falling global commodity prices.

One of the first to feel those changes will be the state’s housing industry, Barkey said. Conventional 30-year mortgage rates exceeding 7% have cut the flow of loan applications to a trickle and sent sales of existing homes sharply downward.

“With the winds of economic change all about, the question for Montana increasingly becomes, what kind of recession is in our future? Montana will not escape the slowdown that is now underway,” Barkey said.

In addition to an in-depth look at Montana’s economy, the seminar also will feature a keynote presentation by Bryce Ward, economist and founder of ABMJ Consulting, titled “The Future of Montana: What the New Wave of In-Migration Means for the State.”

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted people to move from urban areas around the country to live in places like Montana and other Mountain West states, according to Ward.

“The pandemic has changed Montana: more people, different people, more expensive housing,” Ward said. “In economics jargon, the demand for Montana has increased.”

The half-day seminar also will provide expert insights into Montana’s largest industries, including real estate, agriculture, wood products, and healthcare.

Montana’s tourism industry had a noteworthy year as the popular TV series “Yellowstone” — which is filmed in Montana — brought an estimated 2.1 million visitors and $730 million in spending to the state in 2021.

“The ‘Yellowstone’ TV show has demonstrated the power of Montana’s American West image to influence people to visit the state,” said Melissa Weddell, the director of UM’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research. Weddell will present the tourism outlook at the seminar.

The seminar will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the following cities:

  • Great Falls – Tuesday, Jan. 24, at the Hilton Garden Inn
  • Helena – Wednesday, Jan. 25, at the Delta Hotels Helena Colonial
  • Missoula – Friday, Jan. 27, at the Hilton Garden Inn
  • Billings – Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the Northern Hotel
  • Bozeman – Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the Commons
  • Butte – Thursday, Feb. 2, at the NorthWestern General Office
  • Kalispell – Tuesday, Feb. 7, at the Hilton Garden Inn
  • Sidney – Tuesday, March 14, at the MSU Richland County Extension Office
  • Miles City - Wednesday, March 15, at the Sleep Inn & Suites

Webcast streaming live from Bozeman is available in addition to in-person options. Continuing Education credits are offered for both the webcast only and in-person options.

For more information and access to the online seminars visit or call 406-243-2782. Registration is $90 and includes lunch.