Montana is the nation’s sixth most prosperous state, according to a state-by-state study announced Tuesday.
The 2018 Prosperity Now Scorecard said that by a tally of 62 measures in five key outcome areas, Montana rose from 10th place in 2017 to sixth place this year. The Treasure State earned a grade of “A” in both financial assets and income as well as education, up from “B” grades in 2017. The state also ranked first in the nation for its high small business ownership, around 2 percent.
But there’s room for improvement, report authors note: At about 28 percent, Montana has the nation's lowest rate of private-sector employers offering health insurance to their employees. The state also ranked ninth from the bottom in housing affordability; median home values in Montana are 4.3 times higher than the median income.
Montana unemployment is at its lowest rate since 2007, and average annual pay for workers increased slightly in the past year.
At nearly $105,000, the median Montanan's net worth was nearly $30,000 more than that of the median American’s. Nearly 59 percent of Montanans have a prime credit score, about 8 points higher than the national median. About 22 percent of the state’s credit card users had borrowed 75 percent or more of their credit card limit, more than 3 points below the median. But more than 1 in 10 Montana consumers with debt are 90 or more days behind on their payments.
About 1 in 5 Big Sky State residents with debt have student loans, with a median debt burden of nearly $16,000. About 1 in 7 of those student loan borrowers have severely delinquent loans.
The 1.2 percent of Montana households that declared bankruptcy is half the national rate, ranking Montana 10th in the nation.
In 2017, three states — Montana, Hawaii and South Carolina — established a state earned income tax credit, bringing the total to 29 states.
The report highlights three national challenges — income inequality, the lack of affordable housing and persistent racial disparity.
While nearly 7 in 10 White households in Montana own their own home, the same is true for barely more than half of households of color, the report indicates.
Learn more at scorecard.prosperitynow.org.