Past Seminars

View past economic outlook seminars and get material.

2023 Midyear Economic Update

Montana’s Electricity Supply: Adequate for How Long?

The 2023 Midyear Economic Update was held in seven Montana cities and presented and assessment of the U.S. and Montana economies. In addition, economists explored electricity adequacy in Montana. After decades of being a net exporter of electricity to neighboring states, Montana is becoming a state that imports power more often. On the days and hours when we do import power, we compete in a regional market with some very hungry mouths. States like California, in particular, import more than 25% of the power they use. A potential power crunch in our future puts economic growth in jeopardy.

EOS 2023

The Future of Montana: What the New Wave of In-Migration Means for the State

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have moved from congested urban areas around the country to live in places like Montana and other Mountain West states. These newcomers, who are often able to keep their jobs in the big city while enjoying the lifestyle and space of the West, are impacting everything from housing markets to the political landscape. EOS 2023 looked at the new wave of in-migration to the state in the wake of COVID. As always, BBER presented a local, statewide, and national economic outlook for all seminar cities.

2022 Midyear Economic Update

Supply Chain Stress: How Much Longer?

2022 has been an eventful year for the economy. The torrid pace of economic growth of last year gave us surging inflation, very tight labor markets, and empty store shelves. And then the Federal Reserve finally took action against inflation to cool down growth, spooking financial markets and awakening recession fears. The Midyear Economic Update was held in seven Montana cities and presented an assessment of the U.S. and Montana economy.

EOS 2022

Where Housing Is Headed: How Will Today’s Imbalances Be Resolved?

Things that can’t go on forever usually don’t. But if you are millennial waiting for housing prices to crash so you can buy a home, you might have a long wait. The notion that today’s housing price situation is a bubble waiting to break is belied by the fact that housing prices have increased faster than median income almost anywhere for more than 20 years – that includes most places in Montana. So where is housing going? It’s a critical question being faced by communities everywhere as sky-high housing costs have affected everything from labor markets to public services.

EOS 2021

The Path Forward: How COVID-19 Has Reshaped the Economy

2020 was poised to be a good year for Montana’s economy. But then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit American shores – limiting economic activity, closing schools and issuing stay-at-home orders. Travel was restricted or outright banned, and airlines and interstate travel took sharp hits. EOS 2021 examines how COVID-19 has affected the economy and how we can move forward.

EOS 2020

Finding Good Workers

For many Montana employers, the days of receiving stacks of applications is a distant memory. In today’s knowledge based, social media connected and information rich economy, the rules of engagement between candidates and companies have changed. The economic success of local communities and the entire state depends on making the best match between workers and workplaces.

EOS 2019

Facing the Challenge of Affordable Housing

You’re not just imagining it. Housing prices really are going up faster than household income in almost every urban area in Montana – in some places, almost twice as fast. That’s great for sellers, but not so great for buyers and perhaps not so great for the economy. How big of a problem is housing affordability and what things can we do that will help? EOS 2019 examines the future of housing markets in Montana.

EOS 2018

The Future of Higher Education in Montana

Higher education is a future-oriented business – educating and preparing the leaders of tomorrow. But what is the future for colleges and universities? In an economy that increasingly rewards knowledge and expertise, the need to cultivate and grow a competitive, skilled and educated workforce is more vital than ever. How do we do this? EOS 2018 examines the question of how Montana’s higher education system returns value to all of us who live and work here.

EOS 2017

The High Wage Job Puzzle: Finding Montana’s Place in the New Geography of Jobs

In the past, natural resources drove local economic prosperity. Economies thrived where soil was fertile, timber and minerals were abundant and where transportation by water was easy. Today, knowledge matters more. Natural resources and access to markets still matter, but many industries and occupations are increasingly concentrated in places where skilled, creative workers are abundant. EOS 2017 examines what these changes mean for Montana’s economy.

EOS 2016

Rising Property Tax Bills: What You Should Know

Mention property taxes to anyone living or doing business in Montana and you are sure to get a reaction – maybe even an earful. One of the reasons why Montana’s oldest tax is among the least popular is because it is the least understood and in most communities it continues to increase. EOS 2016 examines the property tax and not just how it works, but whether it’s working well and why its growth is seemingly endless. Is the state’s oldest tax prepared for the future?

EOS 2015

The New American Energy Revolution: Reshaping Montana

Are Americans using less gasoline? Is oil production in the lower 48 states growing? Are those plug-in chargers for electric vehicles in the parking lot? A few years ago, this was just a fantasy, but all of these things are happening today. Nothing less than a revolution has taken place in the way we produce, market and think about energy and Montana companies have a big part to play. EOS 2015 examines the challenges and opportunities Montanans face in this new energy boom.

EOS 2014

Making Montana the First Best Place: How Entrepreneurship is Creating High-Paying Jobs

RightNow Technologies was founded in a spare bedroom in Bozeman, Montana. When it was acquired by Oracle in 2012 for more than $1.8 billion, the company was Bozeman’s largest commercial employer providing more than 1,100 jobs. The average wage for an employee was $86,000, more than double the state average. Their sale led to a new generation of Montana technology startups. EOS 2014 examines the potential for entrepreneurship to create more high-wage jobs in our state.

EOS 2013

The Best Medicine: How Can Montanans Take Charge of Changes in Health Care?

Imagine a world where you carry your medical history and prescriptions with you on a credit card, where your doctor calls you to make an appointment or where you can pull up a website and learn what surgical procedures will cost and which hospitals have the lowest error rates. This is where health care is going and we’re getting there faster than you think. EOS 2013 examines the changes in health care and whether Montana households, businesses and governments are ready for them.

EOS 2012

Montana’s New Energy Frontier: What are the Prospects?

New technology has opened up 4 billion barrels of oil in the Bakken, arguably the largest inland oil find in the U.S. in the past 50 years. Ranchers in Sidney are receiving $1 million royalty checks and homeowners are renting unheated garages to oil workers for $600 a month. Is Montana’s eastern energy boom here to stay? EOS 2012 examines what it mean for statewide employment, tax revenues and the environment. Are we next in line for North Dakota’s payday?

EOS 2011

Paying for the Recession: Rebalancing Montana’s Economy

Putting off retirement for another few years or pushing back that home remodel for a while? The economy is emerging from the worst recession since the 1930s and the damage is apparent: diminished personal income, uncertain housing markets, high unemployment rates, permanent closures in key industrial facilities and budget pressures on state and local governments. EOS 2011 examines how we rebalance Montana’s economy.

EOS 2010

Economic Recovery: What’s Ahead for Men and Women Workers?

As our nation heads toward economic recovery, it appears that job losses and unemployment rates during the recession were much higher for men than women. Roughly 1.7 million more men entered the ranks of the unemployed than women. How has this man-cession played out in Montana? The state’s unemployment rate gap between men and women was double that of the national unemployment gap. EOS 2010 examines the recession’s impact and economic recovery on gender and occupations.