Most new jobs in services, professions

102,000 net new jobs with 85 percent coming from service-related industries such as outdoor recreation, health care, real estate, professional and technical services. The research also shows how Montana’s counties with the highest percentage of protected public lands are also the fastest-growing for job growth in the state.”

Montana isn’t known for its high salaries. And yet, a recent study from Headwaters Economics shows that the state is outpacing the rest of the country in job and income growth.

When trying to convince employers to come to Montana, we won’t win by talking about the financial opportunity here. Instead, Montana can speak for itself, and the land has a pretty good pitch. Public lands and all the opportunities that come with them are our comparative advantage over other states in the country when it comes to getting employers to put up shop.

The report says outdoor recreation in Montana means 71,000 “direct jobs.”  It says the biggest job growth is in the service sector, including health care; hotels and restaurants; professionals like architects, lawyers, accountants and real estate agents; plus government.  And most of the growth in the state has been in five of our larger counties, all with abundant public lands.

All this growth also seems to have an effect for construction, as those jobs have been growing as well.

The report shows a correlation between public lands and diverse economic growth in these counties. Flathead County, for example, is 71 percent federal land and had a roaring 29 percent growth in population and employment and 54 percent growth in personal income. But earnings per job actually fell during that period.

Reports such as this one are vital to understanding how all of Montana can use public lands to diversify their economies, not just places like Bozeman, Missoula, and Whitefish.

For information on Montana’s economic growth and public lands correlation with it, you can find the full report here.

-Andie Creel

Feature Photo by Mackenzie Lisac