The Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana will begin its 44th annual Economic Outlook Seminar series in Helena on Tuesday, January 29. This seminar highlights the latest economic trends for local economies and the state of Montana. Director Patrick Barkey says the theme of this year’s seminar tour is addressing the issues surrounding housing costs in the state.

“Facing the Challenge of Affordable Housing is the title of our program,” Barkey said. “The problem with housing in Montana is not just that it is expensive, but prices are going up faster than our ability to pay for it. That mystifies some people, terrifies other people, but very quietly, for a lot of Montana home owners who already have their homes, it also creates a lot of enjoyment for folks as they watch the value of their housing assets go up.”

According to Barkey, they are trying to figure out where the economy is heading. He says that is their goal year-round, but that it is especially crucial right now due to the legislative session.

“Last legislative session, they got it wrong, we got it wrong and we are all scratching our heads trying to figure out why,” Barkey said. “It was quite a weak year in fiscal 2017. The income tax receipts were very flat and it really necessitated the special session. The next year the coffers were flush once again. It is sort of like going to your car in the morning every day to go to work and one day it doesn’t start.”

Barkey says registration costs $90 for the general public and $25 for Montana University System faculty, staff and students. Attendees will receive a copy of the 2019 Montana Economic Report, a book of the PowerPoint presentations, lunch and a one-year subscription to Montana Business Quarterly. For more information or to register, visit economicoutlookseminar.com or call 406-243-5113.

The seminars run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The full schedule is:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 29, Great Northern Hotel, Helena
  • Wednesday, Jan. 30, Hilton Garden Inn, Great Falls
  • Friday, Feb. 1, Hilton Garden Inn, Missoula
  • Tuesday, Feb. 5, Doubletree Hotel, Billings
  • Wednesday, Feb. 6, The Commons, Bozeman and live webcast
  • Thursday, Feb. 7, NorthWestern Energy General Office, Butte
  • Tuesday, Feb. 12, Hilton Garden Inn, Kalispell
  • Tuesday, March 12, USDA Agricultural Research Services, Sidney
  • Wednesday, March 13, Sleep Inn & Suites, Miles City
  • Thursday, March 14, Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, Big Sky