(Missoula Current) While the national economy defied predictions of a recession and is now riding an upward curve in many categories, the cost of housing continues to plague consumers, according to a national study released last week.

According to Construction Coverage, which crunched data from U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the recent American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, Montana saw an average rent increase of 6.5% in 2023.

That's behind Wyoming, which saw the average rent increase 16% and Colorado, which saw an average increase of 15.8%. Among the other Western states, Utah saw an 8.1% increase, Idaho an 8.3% increase and Oregon an 8.5% increase.

“Over the last year, no part of the rental market has been able to avoid continued price increases,” the study said. “From studio apartments to large homes, rental units of all sizes have seen similarly-sized increases in median rents.”

According to the study, the cost increase is largely the result of a shortage in housing. It also suggests that stimulus programs and renter protections helped keep rents low in the early stage of the pandemic.

Geographic differences in median rent increases in 2023.
Geographic differences in median rent increases in 2023.

But rent growth began to spike in 2021, jumping from 2% that February to 16% the following year. By the close of last year, Missoula saw a 9% increase in the average cost of rent to $1,287.

“Still, median rent in the Missoula metro has not increased quite as much as it has for the nation as a whole over the last year,” the study said.

In Montana, the median price of rent in Billings increased 8.4% to $1,214 a month, while Great Falls saw an increase of 6% to $1,064.

Other small metros across the region saw a larger increase, including Cheyenne, where rent prices jumped 21% to $1,342, and Idaho Falls, where rent increased 14% to $1,304.

The median rent in Boulder, Colorado, now stands at $2,519.