BUTTE, MT - If you were to guess what sector of the Montana economy is doing the best, what would you say?

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The Montana economy—whether you like it or not—has been doing well the past few years, especially with its recovery from the hit caused by COVID back in 2020. When we look at the factors to our state's economic success, there are many that come to mind and present themselves.

Factors such as out-of-state financial support (such as the transplants moving here, tourists visiting our National Parks, and businesses investing), manufacturing, agriculture, and construction are all the most impactful. In fact, sectors such as manufacturing, which has an annual real GDP growth of 13% per year, and construction, which boasts 12%, are two of the leading factors. But there's one sector that has a percentage that equates to both manufacturing and construction increases combined. And I'll bet it's not what you're expecting.

As showcased by USAFacts using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the retail sector here in Montana had the highest increase in the state. Here's the direct statistic: "In the 3rd quarter of 2023, the real GDP growth rate for retail trade in Montana was 25.4% per year, the highest in the state."

It's thought that the increase could be driven by a variety of factors, including increased confidence with shoppers, the well-known population growth, or the changes in consumer behavior (such as more folks shopping online). Furthermore, this growth might reflect a rebound from previous economic slowdowns, possibly linked to recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic when retail sectors globally faced downturns.

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So there you have it: retail stores here in the Treasure State are popping off. It might be a good time to open the 56th t-shirt shop in Bozeman! Hooray!

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