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Decade Look Back: Housing costs, income on the rise in Missoula

More people moving to Western Montana
Posted at 2:47 PM, Jan 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-01 16:47:18-05

The decade that just ended saw growth and major industry booms in Missoula with big changes in both housing costs and income.

Statistics from the Missoula Organization of Realtors shows the median cost of a home in Missoula was $208,775 in 2009, but by 2018, the price had jumped to $290,000.

Meanwhile, the median income was around $50,000 in 2009, rising to close to $30,000.

RELATED: Decade Look Back: University of Montana enrollment drop

University of Montana economist Patrick Barkey says Missoula’s economy took a hit in 2009 and 2010, but now, “I would say Missoula is back.”

He says one of the biggest and most obvious things affecting the city’s growth is the number of people moving into the area.

“It really did take a hiccup during the recession, but we’re right back to where we were prior to the recession in terms of migration,” Barkey said.

He added that while migration slowed down during the last decade, people are now moving here at the same rates they were in the 1990s

“That’s an important part of what’s driving housing, of what’s driving retail businesses, it drives growth, it drives traffic. It’s a big feature,” Barkey explained.

Good jobs are one reason that people choose to move into the Missoula area, according to Barkey.

“That’s where that story is unfolding, where I’m talking about things like tech growth, and the commercial building,” he pointed out.

Montana’s cutting-edge technology -- the high tech industry -- is growing nine times faster than the statewide economy.

A 2019 report by the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research shows the sector brought in more than $2 billion in revenue.

Housing costs and wages are both projected to rise in the new year, and the tech industry is still growing.

Barkey did note that the growth and development has been visible across town, but that doesn't always translate into trackable jobs or income.