Gallatin County had remarkable performance in Montana’s economy, leading the state in wage growth last year. While it experienced a slight drop in wage growth from 2015 to 2016, the county seems to be in much better shape than the rest of the state.
Gallatin County’s total wage income increased by a staggering $73 million in the first half of 2016 from the preceding year. Yellowstone County, the state’s largest, lead the state for the first half of 2015, before Gallatin County took its place in the second half. By 2016, Yellowstone County suffered an abrupt slowdown, while Gallatin County lead the state by nearly $40 million ahead of the runner-up, Flathead County.
In 2016, almost every county in Montana had slower growth. The Bureau of Business and Economic Research credited this fact to the substantial increases in Medicaid not carried over to 2016, causing health care wages to drop across the entire state. However, there were unique cases for each region.
Yellowstone County’s severe economic slowdown in 2016 was mainly caused by the continued oil slump that devastated Billings’ oil producers and energy services. This caused a ripple effect that lowered construction wages and weakened its real estate market.
Butte (Silver Bow County) was another region that experienced a major loss. Although the county’s visitor spending increased, a drop in copper prices profoundly impacted mining wages, which declined 28%.
While most of Montana suffered an economic downturn, Gallatin County’s performance remains the strongest in the state.
Gallatin County’s wage growth in 2016 nearly doubled Montana’s next best county.
Much of Gallatin County’s slight drop in wage growth from 2015 to 2016 was due to rising housing prices, and strain on its transportation infrastructure. Gallatin County’s median home price broke the $300,000 threshold in 2016, higher than the rest of Montana’s most populated counties. However, construction, high-tech companies, and tourism continue to drive our county’s prosperous growth.