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The wood products industry: an integral part of regional economics.

The Wood Products Industry: An Integral Part of Regional Economies

The wood products industry is an integral part of the regional economies in which they are situated. An understanding of the local economic characteristics help to put the industry into perspective. A complete analysis of the role of

the wood products industry in the regional economies is beyond the scope of this article. But, statistics for important indicators and a summary of local economic conditions are presented in order to provide a brief introduction to the local economies.

Population and nonfarm labor income provide two indicators of local economic conditions, and figures for each county and multi-county region are presented in table 1. Underneath it all, an economy does consist of people, and the population of an area provides a rough approximation of the size of the local economy. Population, however, tends to be a lagging economic indicator, usually reaching its peak well after other economic indicators have already turned downward.

Nonfarm labor income consists of wages and salaries, proprietors' income, and other labor income of all working persons. It does not include transfer payments, dividends, interest and rents, and other nonlabor income. Changes in nonfarm labor income, after correcting for inflation, provide a very sensitive measure of local economic conditions.

Lincoln County is a sparsely populated region with less than 20,000 residents, or about 2.3 percent of the statewide total. Lincoln County has outperformed Montana in terms of recent economic trends; its population increased faster, and nonfarm labor income did not decline as much as the statewide figures.

Flathead County had a 1987 population of about 58,000 persons and is one of the metropolitan counties in the state. It also serves as a regional trade center, with local merchants serving surrounding rural areas in Lincoln, Lake and Sanders counties. The 11.5 percent and 1.0 percent growth rates for population and nonfarm labor income made Flathead County one of the fastest growing areas in Montana.

Lake, Mineral, and Sanders counties had a combined population of about 33,200 in 1987. Lake County was the largest (21,000 residents), followed by Sanders County (8,700 residents), and Mineral County (3,500 residents). These three counties experienced very different economic trends between 1980 and 1987: the population of Lake County rose 9.9 percent and nonfarm labor income rose 18.7 percent, making it one of the fastest growing counties in the state. Sanders and Mineral counties, on the other hand, experienced significant declines, or stability at best, in population and nonfarm labor income.

Missoula County is one of the three major urban areas in the state, with a 1987 population of 78,300. It serves as the dominant trade, service, and medical center for western Montana. Between 1980 and 1987, Missoula County's economy performed slightly better than the statewide average, its population rose about 3.0 percent, and nonfarm labor income declined approximately 5.8 percent.

The population of Ravalli County was approximately 25,300 in 1987. Between 1980 and 1987, the population of Ravalli County rose 12.4 percent and nonfarm labor income rose 7.5 percent, making it one of the fastest growing counties in Montana.

The ten counties in southwestern Montana had a combined population of 139,400 in 1987, accounting for about 17 percent of the statewide total. The most populous was Gallatin County (48,500) while the least populated was Granite County (2,600). Overall economic performance for the region was slightly better than the statewide average--a 0.4 percent decline in population and a 4.3 percent decrease in nonfarm labor income. But this regionwide figure masks very different trends in individual counties. Gallatin County, for example, was one of the most prosperous in the state, while Silver Bow and Deer Lodge counties (the Butte-Anaconda area) experienced some of the greatest declines. [Tabular Data Omitted]
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Title Annotation:Montana
Author:Keegan, Charles E., III; Wichman, Daniel P.
Publication:Montana Business Quarterly
Date:Jun 22, 1990
Previous Article:Local area profiles of Montana's forest products industry.
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