Ryan Burg

HELENA (KPAX) — Economists from the University of Montana shared their 2024 economic outlook for Montana and a look at how a green energy transition could impact the Treasure State.

Each year, the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) holds an economic outlook seminar to inform Montanans about the economic climate in which they live and work in.

On Tuesday, they kicked off their nine-city tour in Helena where a handful of keynote speakers discussed a variety of economic outlook subjects from across the state, as well as for the Capital City.

"Here in Helena, it's really a difference in '24. It's more of a normal year when the federal spigot is not open quite as wide, and where Montanans are prospering, but not building up cash reserves like we were just a couple of years ago," said University of Montana's BBER Director Patrick Barkey.

According to data presented Tuesday, 2021 marked the year of peak growth, and while wages and salaries may be less affected during an economic slowdown, reduced home borrowing will be a drag on growth.

The report also says migration to the state is starting to cool, and labor markets could remain tight.

There is more optimism for a soft landing as recession fears ease and the potential for the Fed to begin cutting interest rates it raised to fight inflation.

The forum also dove into the opportunities, and challenges, Montana will face when transitioning from fossil fuels to energy with low or zero carbon emitting.

"This is a nice opportunity at the beginning of a year for people to get that snapshot, whatever it is, to get that snapshot of where we [have] been, and where we're going, so they can make better plans for the year ahead," said Barkey.

The BBER's next seminar will be held on Wednesday in Great Falls at the Meadow Lark Country Club.