The state of Montana ranks No. 4 in size in relationship to the other states, however it ranks 44th in population. As of 2009, Montana has an estimated population of 974,989. The land mass of Montana equals 145,552.43 square miles which equates to approximately 6 persons per square mile. Montana experienced its largest population increase from 1990 to 2000 with an increase of 12.9 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Montana’s economy is based on ranching, wheat farming, construction, mining, timber and tourism. In 2007, 8 percent of jobs were in construction, 7 percent in the tourism industry and 5 percent of all jobs were in agriculture, according to The Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research’s 2008 report “Economic Review of The Travel Industry In Montana.”
Helena: City With the Highest Median Income
Lewis and Clark County is the home of Helena, the state capital of Montana. As the center for state government, the economy of Helena is heavily dominated by government or public sector jobs. The “Big Sky Business Journal” reports that as of January 2011, Helena is the city with the highest-median income in Montana. Over half of the households in Helena have an annual income that exceeds $50,425.
Median Income Statewide
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Economic Research reports that the median income in Montana in 2009 was $42,222. The median income varies from county to county with Jefferson County ranking the highest with a median income of $54,242 and Glacier County ranking lowest with a median income of $29,941. The median income is affected by unemployment rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in November 2010, the unemployment rate in Montana was 7.2 percent. Many people that are unemployed live on Indian Tribal reservations located in Glacier County.
Tourism Drives Montana’s Economy
Aside from the service industry, tourism is one of the larger industries that provide income to Montana. Travel expenditures by non-resident visitors to Montana in 2007 totaled in excess of $3 billion, according to The Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research’s 2008 report “Economic Review of The Travel Industry In Montana.” These travel expenditures generated more than $4.31 billion in economic impact and over $1 billion in personal income for Montana residents.