You’ll get the report on Missoula Current.
We learned that Missoula County added 877 jobs last year.
So that comes out to about 73 jobs a month. Doesn’t seem like much, especially when we know that the City of Missoula’s population grew by 1,900 people between 2013 and 2015.
That comes out to 79 people a month that need a new job.
We did a lot better between 2012 and 2013, as we only grew by 47 people a month.
Back then we could keep up with jobs for people that came here. Now we cannot.
But that’s not quite accurate – I’m giving you city population numbers when the report gives us county jobs numbers.
We know that there are more people in the county than the city, so these numbers are even worse than we make them out to be.
So we have an unsustainable situation. Even worse, we know that most of the new jobs that are created are low income and have absolutely no benefits to speak of.
Many Missoulians have to work 2 to 3 jobs just to get by. Most of those jobs are part-time jobs, again, with no benefits and very low pay.
We discussed this a lot when we compared Kohl’s and Decker jobs in Missoula.
What’s worse is how badly we’re doing compared to other cities.
For instance, Bozeman has 60,300 workers compared to Missoula’s 59,700.
So a city that’s about half the size of Missoula has 600 more jobs than we do?
Wow, that’s messed up.
This time last year we learned that Missoula wasn’t doing so hot.
Whereas in 2015 we had 3% growth in the city/county, for 2016 and 2017 we were only expected to get about 2.5%.
Why is that?
“Declining enrollment and faculty cuts at the University of Montana,” plus a “slowdown” in the trucking industry.
Yeah, the trucking industry - great pay and benefits...if you don't mind leaving your family for most of the month.
We also learned that the mining industry was in decline, something that shifts Montana’s economy “towards the western half of the state.”
Since the western half of the state doesn’t have the economic muscle of the eastern half, we see state revenues way down.
That’s why there are so many calls to slash spending, raise taxes, and find new things to tax.
Sound like a strong economy to you?
It doesn’t sound that way to me.
If the economy was strong we’d see more people with jobs, higher pay for those jobs, and a lot more income tax revenue for the state.
But we don’t see that.
It’s because the majority of the people in Montana are not working, those that are working have low pay, and because that pay is so low, it doesn’t qualify for a high tax amount.
So the state’s broke.
How to fix it?
Bring in more high-quality jobs.
This was the message of Greg Gianforte during the 2016 campaign. It’s a good message, though one I don’t think he could have followed through on.
Businesses just don’t want to come to Montana.
Two weeks ago we learned that Amazon is going to create 100,000 more jobs over the next 18 months.
None of those jobs will be coming to Montana.
IBM is looking to fill 1,221 new positions.
None of them will be in Montana.
Tesla will be filling 3,000 new jobs over the course of the year.
Not a single one of them will be in Montana.
Why is that?
Why do these large companies never come to Montana to set up shop?
Well, if you remember my report from 2 years ago you’ll have a good idea why.
“Economists tell us that two ingredients crate a dynamic economy,” UM professor Harry Fritz tells us: “the ability, first, to make things, and then second, to sell them.”
Sadly, “Montana does little of either. Its raw materials are extracted and peddled without much intermediate processing.”
Besides that we have the terrible problem of geography.
One of Montana’s “greatest historical economic-disadvantages” has always been its “long distances, high transportation rates, and the social costs of space.”
So let’s run through those problems one more time:
- We don’t make anything
- We therefore can’t sell what we make
- We barely process what we pull out of the ground
- We’re far away from everything
- It costs a lot of money to transport things in or out
- We lack the connections that smaller geographic spaces allow for
Those are the 6 main reasons why none of those 100,000 Amazon jobs will be coming to the Treasure State this year, next year, or anytime in the foreseeable future.
What can we do to remedy this?
It frustrates me to say this, but I have no idea.