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Montana's economy is surging, unemployment at historic low

Jake Clark
Posted at 8:19 AM, Jan 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 12:17:11-05

GREAT FALLS — 2021 was quite the year for the state’s economy and business is as busy as ever for Montana thanks to a surge in the economy.

Montana is at an all-time low for unemployment according to the Montana Department of Labor & Industry. Unemployment is at 2.8% which is tied for the all-time low on record. Montana added about 17,300 jobs from January 2021 to November 2021 which resulted in a growth rate of 3.4%. The state’s average growth rate since 1980 is about 1 percent.

MT DLI spokesperson Jessica Nelson said, “Hiring in Montana is strong, and the economy has surged back after the pandemic recession. The state has finished regaining jobs lost in the recession and the low unemployment and tight markets translate into slower employment growth in 2022.”

Great Falls is seeing one of its lowest unemployment rates as well. While the future is promising for Great Falls, there are some struggles to go along with its economy’s success.

The Great Falls Development Authority reports that Great Falls’ unemployment rate is also at a historic low, at about 2%.

Business Development Officer Jake Clark said 2021 was a great year for the city and its businesses. He added despite the success, there are still challenges the economy is facing.

“Work force talent attraction is a huge issue for Great Falls right now. We’ve got a bunch of great jobs. Probably more great jobs than we’ve had in a very long time except that we can’t find anybody to fill them, so we’re struggling in that way for sure. Big picture, I think Great Falls looks as exciting as it has in a very long time,” Clark says. “We used to be a hidden gem in Montana, but I think the secret is out. I think more people are seeing Great Falls as an opportunity.”

The Great Falls Development Authority had 22 presenters at their annual "Ignite" event last week, which celebrates projects that are either starting or finishing in Great Falls. They say there’s a lot to look forward to this year with many more projects being announced in the coming months.

“Folks are very excited about development in Montana. We’re on the radar for folks that we may not have been before. We’re being invested in not only by a bunch of local companies that are excited to enjoy the fruits of a growing economy here in the area, but we’ve now become on the radar for a lot of companies that want to come here and be here,” Clark said. “So there’s a lot of very smart people who have selected Great Falls as a place to come and make money and bring opportunity. So that’s very exciting and this year is going to be a big year for that.”

Clark says not many of the projects have set timelines yet but more of them will be announced in the coming months. He also says he only expects the city’s economy to go up from here and continue paying high-wage jobs.

GFDA "Ignite" looks ahead to 2022