Tim Goodridge, Assistant Manager at Metra Park, has been named to serve as interim manager by County Commissioners, following the departure of Bill Dutcher, who is retiring at the end of the year.

When asked by County Commissioners if he would be interested in the position on Monday, Goodridge said that he would have been excited to accept the position a couple weeks ago (before the issue of privatizing Metra Park emerged as a consideration by the commissioners). He added that if asked he would accept. “I’ll do my part,” he said, regarding supporting Metra Park.

Dutcher’s final day at Metra Park, after 40 years, is December 30. It was announced on Tuesday that a retirement celebration is being planned for Dutcher on Dec. 10.

Commissioner Don Jones said that the commissioners may not have yet determined the direction they will go regarding the issue of privatization of Metra Park management by the end of the year, although they have interviewed a couple of candidates who sent in applications to fill the position

Kyle Schlichenmayer, affiliated with Coldwell Banker Commercial CBS in Billings, was among those awarded the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation by the CCIM Institute.

Along with 200+ commercial real estate professionals from around the world, the Coldwell Banker Commercial professionals earned the designation by passing the CCIM Comprehensive Examination, the final component and capstone in the designation process.  One of the most coveted and respected designations in the industry, only 6 percent of the estimated 150,000 commercial real estate practitioners nationwide have achieved the CCIM designation, reflecting the caliber of the program.

The CCIM designation is awarded to commercial real estate professionals upon successful completion of a graduate-level education curriculum and presentation of a portfolio of qualifying experience.  The curriculum addresses financial analysis, market analysis, user decision analysis, and investment analysis, the cornerstones of commercial investment real estate.  CCIMs are recognized experts in commercial real estate brokerage, leasing, asset management, valuation, and investment analysis.

Commercial

Pepsi Cola Billings Mt/Jones Construction, Inc, 344 Howard Ave, Com Addition, $125,000

Vance Thompson Vision/Builder Construction Inc., 1747 Poly Dr, Com Addition Plan, $26,500

RPR Properties LLC/T.W. Clark Construction LLC, 704 N 30th St, Com Addition, $496,428

Hanser Capital Holdings LLC, 4410 Altay Dr, Com Footing/Foundation, $3,045,417

Matt Brosovich/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 1417 38th St W, Com New Restaurant/Casino/Bar, $2,400,000

Aviation Properties LLC/EEC Inc, 3475 A J Way, Com New Warehouse/Storage, $1,823,961

Proffutt Limited Partnership/Jones Construction, Inc, 5221 Midland Rd, Com Remodel, $97,000

Yeley Holdings LLC, 4011 Montana Sapphire Dr, Com Remodel, $100,000

Jeremiah Doucette/Owens Construction Inc, 1225 Mullowney Ln, Com Remodel, $25,500

Ajajo LLC/Barta Custom Builders LLC, 2139 Broadwater Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $13,500   

Voegele Ventures LLC/Empire Roofing Inc, 2344 Grand Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $85,244   

Knutson, Jess Anne/Big Phish Construction, 346 Bench Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $19,152   

Knutson, Jess Anne/Big Phish Construction, 340 Bench Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $17,771  

Knutson, Jess Anne/Big Phish Construction, 334 Bench Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $16,150  

Zarbock Property Management LLC/T.W. Clark Construction LLC, 501 Grand Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $1,500  

Rocky Vista University LLC/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 4130 Monad Rd, Com New Office/Bank, $19,778,605

Austyn Spencer Enterprises, LLC/Bryant Contracting LLC, 4470 King Ave E, Com New Other, $464,395

Miller Land Co/Smooth Rock Drywall, 3000 7th Ave N, Com Remodel, $8,000

Bo Selvig/Beartooth Holding & Construction, 1686 Shiloh Rd, Com Remodel, $63,240

Prairie Tower Inc/Jares Fence Company, Inc., 725 N 25th St, Com Remodel, $3,000

Residential

Sunwest Trust Inc/Custodian ,2032 Beverly Hill Blvd, Res New Accessory Structure, $23,040

Wagenhals Enterprise Inc/Wagenhals Enterprises Inc, 1106 Daylight Ln, Res New Single Family, $272,828

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 805 Cherry Hills Rd, Res New Single Family, $189,110

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2128 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $189,110

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2128 Morocco Dr, Res New Single Family,  $186,610

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2111 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family,  $186,610

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2123 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $186,610

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2119 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family,  $193,802

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2127 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $199,037

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2132 Morocco Dr, Res New Single Family, $193,802

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2131 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $239,614

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 809 Cherry Hills Rd, Res New Single Family, $221,047

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2207 Lindero Blvd, Res New Single Family, $239,614

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2115 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $239,614

Infinity Homes/Infinity Home LLC, 2007 W Thunder Mountain Rd, Res New Single Family, $289,944

CDH, LLC/CDH, LLC, 5431 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, $485,166

Na/McCall Development, 6102 Johanns Meadow Ln, Res New Single Family, $303,522

Magnus Land Development LLC/6325 Beckville Ln, Res New Townhome, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC/6325 Beckville Ln, Res New Townhome,. $0

Trent Buscher/Trent Buscher Construction, 3157 Falcon Cir, Res New Single Family, $211,609

Buscher Development Inc/Buscher Construction Ltd, 4984 Whisper Way, Res New Single Family, $300,000

815 N 31st Street LLC/Steven Houlihan Construction LLC, 813 N 31st St, Res New Single Family, $692,075

Chamberlain Construction /Chamberlain Construction, 1357 Tania Cir, Res New Single Family, $266,584

Marjorie Davis Family Trust, 450 Cherry Hills Rd, Res New Single Family, $600,000

South Pine Design/South Pine Design, 2415 Glengarry Ln, Res New Single Family, $450,000

True North Homes, LLC, 1809 E Thunder Mountain Rd, Res New Single Family, $349,491

Diverse Construction/Diverse Construction LLC, 2048 Gleneagles Blvd, Res New Single Family $180,000

Formation Inc/Formation Inc, 4687 Sky Vista Ct, Res New Single Family, $278,421

Wagenhals Enterprises Inc/Wagenhals Enterprises Inc, 5519 Morning Star Ln, Res New Single Family, $280,000

William “Beau” Thompson/Green Jeans LLC, 1308 Emma Ave, Res New Single Family, $370,000

Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, 411 24th St W, 59102, 829-1616, Tom Kula/Jason Welnel, service

Billings Vacation rentals, 4314 Pine Cove Rd, 59106, 860-0083, Jenna O’Brien, real estate rental

Black Montana Trucking, 1208 Cresthaven Way, 59102, 697-0197, Luke Atwell, service

Jay Bird Builders, 29 1/2 Alderson Ave, 59101, 321-9701, Collin Blackmore, general contractors

Resolved Exteriors, 616 Clark Ave, 59101, 308-1815, James Gilbert, general contractors

Fishers of Men Foods inc., 300 S 24th St W, 59102, 956-602-2738, Miguel Garcia, retail sales

Radke Drywalls, 29 1/2 Adams St, 59101, 696-8897, Christopher Radke, general contractors

Barger Platinum Plumbing, 14 32nd St W, 59102, 623-0987, Marvin Barger, plumbing contractor

MJA Roofing, 1139 69th St W, 59106, 561-543-6215, Neiset Aldana, roofing contractor

Valet Today Cleaners, 2434 Grand Ave, 59102, 655-9196, MC Cleaners, cleaners & Laundromats

Think Little Drop-In, 2085 Lakehills Dr, 59105, 281-2509, Angelia Smith, service

Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, 114 Grand Ave, 59101, 829-1616, Tom Kula/Jason Welnel, service

Foxy Lou’s Boutique, 1523 Oxbow Circle, 59105, 801-546-0261, Fallon Demet, retail sales

Larson and Associates PLLC, 2200 Rosewyn Ln, 59102, 371-1831, Connor Larson, Misc

Ali Hanson Photographer, 3624 Spotted Jack Loop N, 59101, 850-8680, Ali Hanson, service

VIM Collective, 131 Moore Ln Ste D, 59101, 208-1924, Tiffany Russell, solo practitioner

Higher Self Awareness LLC, 1212 Grand Ave Ste 6, 59102, 670-7146, Meredith Eckerdt, solo practitioner

Ken’s Sharpening and Restoration, 6427 Signal Peak Ave, 59106, 360-348-2945, Kenneth Kiesow, service

 NAPA Auto Parts, 3175 Grand, 59102, Stuart Duncan Mgr, retail sales

Jack’d up Construction, 1115 Arlington Ave SW, 59101, 200-1245, Jack Workman, general contractors

Adventure Bound Travel, 7033 Copper View Way, 59106, 541-663-6388, Amy Shinsel, service

Owens Construction Inc, 635 Metcalf Rd, El Dorado KS 67042, Megan Derby, 316-321-2275, general contractors

Urbina Construction, 9 Vista Dr, 59102, 281-3962, Alfredo Urbina, general contractors

Rotar construction, 1911 8th Ave N #5, 855-3942, Jared Rotar, general contractors

Backcountry Glamping MT, 1134 N 31st St, 59101, 927-9120, Angela Stump, service

Bar SD Construction, 1931 Alderson Ave, 59101, 699-3137, Keith Tipton, general contractors

Christopher Minor, 1301 industrial Ave Apt 85, 59101, 876-7501, Christopher Minor, service

Bear Head LLC, 1135 N 23rd St, 59101, 697-3242, Michael Spangler, retail sales

SGM Services, 5918 Creek Dr, 59106, 671-3966, Steven Martin, service

Trimmed To Fit LLC, 2707 Broadwater Ave, 59102, 697-1868, Ashely Foreman, general contractors

DC Paintings & Coatings, 106 Upper Flat Rd, 930-0183, Columbus 59019, Dan & Christine Henkel, service

Good’s Holistic Healing, 1925 Grand Ave Ste 13B, 59102, 647-7300, Keith Good, service

Lost River Construction, 10671 W Treeline CT, Boise ID 83713, 208-703-5417, Julie Jensen, roofing contractors

It’s About Time/Kari’s Music Studio, 1650 Mary St, 59105, 998-7953, Karolyn Jones, service

Old Soldier Equipment Company LLC, 47 Sheep Mtn Rd, Red Lodge 59068, 307-690-7556, Brad Barker, general contractors

Val’s Transportation, 2815 5th Ave S, 59101, 702-5983, Valerie Meza, service

 406 Concrete, 2003 LaBrea, 59102, 998-9570, 59102, Sean Garcia/Cody Bonner, general contractors

MCP Group LLC, 1302 Avenue D, 59102, 671-6499, David & Kristi Halland, real estate rental

Newcastle Home Inspections, 16 Grassland Way, Roundup 59072, 331-0047, Douglas Irish, service

R&R Transportation, 638 Miles Ave #2, Ryan Ireland/Rebecca Wilkins, service

Fallon Demet Photography, 1523 Oxbow Circle, 59105, 801-546-0261, Fallon Demet, service

Sheep Mtn  Builders, 2608 Topeka Dr, Laurel 59044, 876-6887, Zach Norris, general contractors

Clean By Design, 346 Delta Circle, 59102, 969-1387, Karla Hartford, service

Entrepreneur Advisors Inc., 2051 Custer Ave, 59102, James Schrage, service

DLS outdoor Services, 6318 Bear Paw Dr S, 59106, 670-7234, Darrell Sept, service

My Mobile Therapy, 1807 Sunrise, 59101, 696-9372, Keith Carpenter, services

Grizzly Fence and Haul Away LLC, 925 Yellowsjackets Way #2, 59106, 598-6908, Nicholas McPhail, service

Prototype Space, 4215 Montana Sapphire Dr #410, 59106, 694-2578, Glenda Meade, service

Faith Technologies Incorporated, 201 Main St, 59105, 920-225-6500, Jon Veter, Mgr., electrical contractors

Wardens West Casino, (JDS II, LLC), 3189 King Ave W Ste A, 59102, 534-6298, Liquor license

Karin Rae, 703 Shamrock Ln, 59102, 698-3468, Amber Critelli-Maichel, retail sales

Montana Development Co, 2820 2nd Ave N, 59101, 294-3710, Brad Constantine, service

Thatsninja LLC, 2927 Monty Circle, 59106, 998-7469, Jonah Sullivan, service

 B&B Cabinets and Drywall, 2312 Atchison, Laurel 59044, 940-5426, James Ball/Gaspar Barragan, general contractors

Pure Light Power, 2718 Montana Ave Ste 310, 59101, 541-816-4047, Reba Stephens, service

Mo Nava Express, 710 Wild Rose Ave, 59101, 647-7653, Mona Rae Nava, service

 Montana Block LLC, 2601 Terry Ave, 59102, 861-9285, Brittany Martishius, retail sales

Hofer Builders, 8126 Wade St, Shepherd 59079, 670-0000, Benny Hofer, general contractors

Justin Stockfish Construction, 3 Clover Pl, 59102, 690-6738, Justin Stockfish, general contractors

LV’s Detailed Auto & Supply LLC, 2310 Avenue C #2, 59102, 200-4317, Logan Paoli, service

Stillwater Venture Capital LLC, 64 Travois Trail, Nye MT 59061, 281-8008, Jason Pitts, general contractors

Marlow Group LLC, 1643 24th St W 102, 59102, 821-3199, Cory Marlow, service

Asphalt Surface Technologies Corporation, 8348 Ridgewood Rd, Saint Joseph MN 56374, general contractors

ATCPNW Tree Farm, 517 Shiloh Rd, 59106, 272-7220, Scott Reichardt, retail sales

ATCPNW Tree Farm, 2335 Lewis Ave, 59102, 272-7220, Scott Reichardt, retail sales

Kaz’s Sweet Treats, 3282 Granger Ave E #4, 59102, 839-0627, Kazmira Martinez, retail sales

Naz Sanks Counseling PLLC, 3789 Donna Ct, 59102, na, Nazgul Sanks, service

Morning Start Property LLC, 1836 Songbird Dr, 59101, 661-5697, Dale Jones, service

Mr Mow It All 406, 4242 Bennett Ave, 59105, 855-0710, Jason Clemmer, service stations

Purple Snow Promotional, 1138 16th St West Ste 10, 59102, 647-0252, Hans Abbey, retail sales

Dunn Construction, 6210 Horsethief Ln, Shepherd MT 59079, 690-8396, Steve Dunn, general contractors

McArty Installation Service, 5224 Central, 59106, 591-7059, Mike McArtry, service

Bakken Tree Service, 1016 McKenney Rd, 59105, 591-4778, Michael Bakken, service

Jeff Preator Construction, 3465 St Johns Ave, 860-3867, Jeff Preator, general contractors

RP Homes, 1219 Harney Dr, 59101, 208-317-0287, Ethan Griffel, real estate rental,  

Southern Touch Renovations, 217 Jackson St, 59101, 561-5422, Keith Barton, general contractors

TruNorse Contracting, 2901 Monad Rd #43, 59102, 200-0702, Scott Forslund, general contractors

A2Z Mechanical and household Services, 3458 Wasco Ave, 59101, 661-3177, Allen Megaard, service

The Montana Tourism industry is waiting for President Biden’s announcement that he is reopening the Canadian border for leisure travel for people who are vaccinated.  He has indicated that announcement will come in November. While the southern border of the US stands wide open, the northern border has been closed tight, crippling trade and tourism business for Montana since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. 

Canada early-on opened travel across the border, but the US has closed travel to all but essential travel since March 2020, despite pleas by northern state governors, including Gov. Gianforte, to open it.

Canada is a significant trading partner for Montana, especially in regard to Montana’s almost $4 billion tourism industry. In 2019, it is estimated that Canadian travelers spent about $166 million in Montana.

While the level of tourism can vary from year to year depending on the value of the US dollar compared to the Canadian dollar, some years the number of visitors from Canada have been reported to exceed the number of visitors from Washington, Idaho and North Dakota combined.

Kara Grau with the Montana Institute for Tourism & Recreation Research  explains that they estimate the number of travelers coming to Montana based on traffic counts and observations of their surveyors.

In 2019, traffic coming in via a Canadian border crossing accounted for about 6 percent of Montana travelers.

In 2020, that dropped to about 1 percent, most of which arrived during the first quarter before the pandemic closures. With the border closed that number hasn’t changed in 2021.

Commercial

Williams Property Management, 4020 Montana Sapphire Dr, Com Addition, $195,000

City Of Billings – Parks Dept/SP Services, 2005 6th Ave N, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $61,480

Billings Chamber Of Commerce/Singh Contracting Inc, 815 S 27th St, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $20,250

Sisters Of Charity Of Leavenworth/Hardy Construction Co., 1106 N 30th St, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $45,000

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6170 Elysian Rd, Com Footing/Foundation, $50,000

Square 106 LLC/Beartooth Holding & Construction, 1678 Shiloh Rd, Com New Other, $850,000

Square 106 LLC/Beartooth Holding & Construction, 1720 Shiloh Rd, Com New Restaurant/Casino/Bar, $600,000

Randy Swenson/Beartooth Holding & Construction, 1686 Shiloh Rd, Com New Store/Strip Center, $850,000

Dwight Deckert/Coast To Coast Builders Inc, 1411 38th St W, Com Remodel, $250,000

DB 10 LLC/Bauer Construction, 14 N 29th St, Com Remodel, $30,000

Nathan Matelitch/Neumann Construction, 1112 Broadwater Ave, Com Remodel – Change In Use, $75,000

City Of Billings The/TJ Construction, 2626 13th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding $15,800

City Of Billings The/TJ Construction, 2626 13th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $10,700

City Of Billings/TJ Construction, 2626 13th St W, The Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $4,200

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6160 Elysian Rd, Com Footing/Foundation, $25,000

Sisters Of Charity Of Leavenworth, 2220 Mission Way, Com New Other, $225,000

WP5 Billings LLC/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 2618 King Ave W, Com Remodel,  $150,000

Jin’s Buffet/Air Controls Billings Inc., 1310 Main St, Com Remodel, $5,000

Family Billings LLC/Bettelyoun & Son Construction, 980 S 24th St W, Com Remodel, $1,600

Bitter Creek Pipelines LLC/Reed Construction And Consulting, 552 Roxy Ln, Com Remodel, $8,250

Residential

CDH, LLC/CDH, LLC, 4741 Gold Creek Trl, Res New Single Family $323,548

Jeff Kreitzberg Homes Inc/Jeff Kreitzberg Homes, 2225 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $207,350

CDH, LLC/CDH, LLC, 5304 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, $268,425

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 918 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family, $247,732

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 914 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family, $302,471

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 910 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family, $247,732

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 906 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family, $219,035

CDH, LLC/CDH, LLC, 5325 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, $281,473

Better Building Technologies/MJH Construction, 2107 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $237,619

Lorenz Construction/Lorenz Construction, 3380 Tahoe Dr, Res New Single Family, $265,800

Jeff Kreitzberg Homes Inc/Jeff Kreitzberg Homes, 2221 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $226,359

Formation Inc/Formation Inc, 4701 Sky Vista Ct, Res New Single Family, $331,905

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1955 Annas Garden Ln, Res New Single Family, $299,456

Wells Built Inc/Wells Built Inc, 6104 Canyonwoods Dr, Res New Single Family, $779,213

Design Builders/Design Builders, Inc. 2528 Aspen Creek Trl, Res New Single Family, $342,952

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1802 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $258,098

McCall/McCall Development, 6120 Johanns Meadow Ln, Res New Single Family, $282,543

Ridgewood Development LLP/Emineth Custom Homes, 3316 McMasters Rd, Res New Single Family, $650,000

The current labor shortage in Montana carries with it some surprises that haven’t been seen before, but reaction to them should be much the same as it has been for any labor shortage, according to Patrick Barkey, Director of the Bureau of Labor and Industry.

“To say that the balance of power in the give and take between workers and employers has swung toward workers in recent months would be an understatement, and that is just one of many surprises,” writes Barkey in the most recent issue of the Montana Business Quarterly.

“In past recessions, employment growth lags economic growth, as employers hire back laid-off workers only after all other measures to boost output” …but … “The brief but severe 2020 pandemic recession has been a completely  different animal. Not only did the resumption of job growth occur in April 2020, barely two months after the February 2020 date considered to be the pre-recession peak, but the growth was strong.”

Barkey reminds that prior to the COVID-19 mandated business closures there were already concerns about a shrinking labor market.

At the same time, employers and employees alike, expected the shutdowns to be longer, which prompted different responses by both than what might have happened had the realized the short duration.

Many employees used the time to look around for new options and different career opportunities, which because it was a strong market there were many. And, many employers deeply regretted breaking ties with experienced and trained employees.

While some of the circumstances impacting this labor shortage are not unique, some are:

—The reopening was strongest in industries previously hurt the most, notably the highly seasonal and labor-intensive accommodations, restaurant and personal services industries.

—With a new interest in domestic travel – “The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport enplanements were almost 90% higher in June than pre-pandemic, the second highest increase of any airport in the country.”

—Many former workers withdrew from the labor market permanently for “a variety of reasons, including financial security from stock market and housing wealth increases, government support payments, spousal income and COVID-related concerns.”

Also, “One last factor contributing to pressure on Montana labor markets is the seasonal nature of our economy. During the summer months of any year, employment generally surges by 25,000 jobs or more as tourist volume ramps up and labor-intensive industries that serve that demand expand. The timing of the reopening of the state economy in 2021 coincided almost exactly with that seasonal peak.”

All these events contributed to tightening an already tight labor market.

“By almost any measure, the scarcity of labor is apparent, particularly for entry level jobs, where increases in starting wages have been the strongest. There has been a marked increase in voluntary quits by workers, a sign of their confidence in future job availability. And speaking of availability, the 62% increase in job openings experienced in Montana since before the pandemic began was higher than any state.”

Despite the pandemic, the factors contributing to an already tight labor market in Montana have not changed.  Things like: “Demographic events like falling birth rates and the retirement of baby boomers, coupled with huge disruptions in international migration, are stagnating the growth of the working-age population. And the shift in the interests and desires of Generation Z workers just entering the labor market continues to work against the needs of employers in less desired trades and construction occupations.”

Since these factors existed prior to the COVID shutdowns, the recommended responses remain the same:

— Raising wages. …which is already being done, but its impacts on growing the entire labor force have been limited.

—Searching more broadly for workers, relaxing requirements, looking at nontraditional workers. Looking outside local areas for a broader category of jobs.

—Investing more in training, hiring less qualified workers and training them up to acceptable skill levels.

—Reconfiguring job roles to find ways to make existing staff more productive, covering needed functions with the existing workforce.

—Recruiting future workers by connecting with middle- school-aged students to give them exposure to the nature of jobs they may otherwise know nothing about.

“Other actions, such as automation and outsourcing of work, has been underway when feasible for decades, but recent shortages have pushed the envelope further. The lack of available workers, while not a pleasant challenge for employers, nonetheless may prod them to take steps to eliminate the “bad jobs” in their workplaces. These may be jobs with high physical burdens, long or inconvenient working hours and other aspects that make them less competitive in a seller’s market for labor services.”

Policy makers could also make changes, notes Barkey – which although unpopular would improve the situation.

—Boosting the retirement age, which effectively means resetting the age at which individuals become eligible for Social Security and Medicare.

—Increasing female labor force participation by helping to increase child care availability.

— Fixing immigration policy. This traditional strength of the U.S. labor market has foundered on the rocks of political storms for almost a decade.

— Raising teenage labor force participation, currently at rates that are 20 percentage points lower than 40 years ago.

— Rethinking drug testing policies. Legalized cannabis is just one of many factors that are causing attitudes and policies to change.

—Reconsider occupational licensing requirements, which limit the ability of two-earner couples to relocate to Montana.

Financial Moves for Women Business Owners

By Michael Vondra

If you’re a woman who owns a business, you may have some challenges not shared by your male peers – but you also have several opportunities to help improve your financial future.

You may already be taking some or all the right steps, but here are some ideas to be sure you’re considering and revisiting as your business grows:

• Refresh your network. Are you involved in networking with other women business owners? Many of them may have insights into the issues women face in the business world, as well as suggestions about lending programs and business-friendly banks. You may also enjoy passing along your lessons learned to others.

• Review your business structure. If you go into business as a sole proprietor, you’ll have to report your business income on your personal income tax return. If you incorporate or form a limited liability company (LLC), you can protect your personal assets – such as your house and your investments – from creditors because these assets will be separated from your business assets and debts. You might also consider other, more complex entities, known as C and S corporations. There’s no single “correct” business structure and the most appropriate one for you may change over time, so, in choosing one that’s right for your needs, you’ll want to consult with your tax and legal advisors.

• Do an insurance checkup. To protect yourself and your business, you may want to review your insurance to make sure you have the right kinds and amount of coverage. General liability insurance can be appropriate for sole proprietors, if you’ve established an LLC or you’ve incorporated your business. If you provide some type of professional service (i.e., legal, accounting, engineering and so on), you might need professional liability insurance. And no matter what business you own, you might want to add disability insurance to replace some of the income you’d lose if you were injured or became ill.

• Consider all your retirement options. If you’ve got your own business, you’re solely responsible for funding your retirement. Fortunately, as a business owner, you’ve got several attractive options, including an “owner-only” 401(k), a SEP-IRA and a SIMPLE IRA. In deciding which plan is right for you, you’ll need to consider several factors, including the number of employees, if any, and the nature of your business. However, all these plans are relatively easy to set up and administer and offer potential tax benefits. And even though you’ve got plenty to do already, you should make the time to establish or review your own retirement plan – because eventually you’ll need all the resources you can accumulate to enjoy life as a former business owner.  

You can also find valuable information on programs for women business owners by visiting the Small Business Administration’s website at www.sba.gov and searching for “women-owned businesses.”

Running your own business can be challenging – but by making some positive financial moves and getting the support you need, you can also find business ownership to be highly rewarding, personally and professionally.

Michael A Vondra

Certified Financial Planner Practitioner

Edward Jones

How receptive are people in the various countries to the idea of free markets?

A new Global Index of Economic Mentality (GIEM) indicates that the United States scores high among 74 countries, ranking fourth with only New Zealand Czech Republic and Sweden being more receptive to free market concepts. But digging deeper into the numbers indicates that the US score has mostly to do with the views of older citizens. “In contrast, the attitudes of the younger US cohorts are decidedly anti -freedom. In fact, the gap between the US generations in this respect is the greatest of all the countries (New Zealand and Australia being next) in the world.”

For decades the world’s countries have been ranked in various indices for economic freedom and the like. These rankings try to measure the extent to which current legal and/or institutional conditions permit individual economic activity. They have been shown to correlate strongly with prosperity and human well- being.

The new GIEM, compiled by Brad Lips (Atlas Network, Washington, D.C.), Pal Czegledi (University of Debrecen, Hungary), and Carlos Newland (ESEADE University and Torcuato Di Tella University, Buenos Aires, Argentina), measures public opinion about economic freedom rather than the extent to which it is actually practiced. A high GIEM score indicates that its citizens support the idea that their government should not play a major role in directing or regulating economic activity or in redistributing income. GIEM measures public opinion toward a system of free enterprise rather than the extent of its realization in practice.

New Zealand has a score of 0.76, while the US score is 0.71.

Ranking at the bottom is Iran, Egypt, Russia, Azerbaijan, Montenegro, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Bosnia. The scores range from 0.33 to 0.24.

Great Britain had a score of 0.60 and ranked 16th, Switzerland ranked 21st and scored  0.58, Hong Kong’s score was 0.57, France, 0.55. Mexico ranks 31st and scored 0.52 followed by Japan at 0.52 and  Germany, scoring 0.51. China ranked 51st and scored 0.43.

Countries that embrace a free-market mentality tend to have more efficient economic institutions and higher per capita GDP than those who support socialist, interventionist mentalities. However, there are notable differences.

For instance, although Chile’s free market institutions have made it the most prosperous country in South America, it has the lowest GIEM score on the continent, even a notch below Argentina, and 64th overall. These data suggest that the Chilean public has not been convinced of the benefits of the free-market system that has lifted them out of poverty.

The existence of inconsistency of practice and ideas, goes a long way toward explaining the recent disturbances in Chile and its dramatic lurch away from freedom.

In spite of New Zealand’s current totalitarian behavior, it tops the mentality chart due to the public embrace of ideas propagated by Sir Roger Douglas, New Zealand’s former minister of finance (1984–1988) in the reformist Labour Government during the tenure of prime minister David Lange.

The high ranking of the Czech Republic can be traced to radical education in free-market ideas by Václav Klaus, former minister of finance (1989–1992) of Czechoslovakia, and former prime minister (1992–1998) and president (2003–2013) of the Czech Republic. Klaus led the Czech Republic’s transition from communism to a free-market economy. In contrast to Chile, there is consistency between thought and action in the Czech Republic.

In recent decades economic freedom in the US has steadily fallen from its previously high level, but it still scores high in having a largely free market mentality. This turns out to be due to the attitudes of older citizens who were educated about principles of freedom and have seen free markets function. In contrast, the attitudes of the younger generations, denied similar educations, resist free market concepts and are more inclined to support top-down statist controls.

People in the US are quitting jobs at record rates.

The Labor Department’s monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report showed that 4.3 million people left their jobs in August, an increase of 2.9 percent or a 242,000 job increase from the previous month – the highest figure in data that goes back to December 2000.

Most of the increase – 157,000 quits —was recorded in the accommodation and food services industry, while 26,000 more left the wholesale trade business, according to Epoch Times. State and local government education saw 25,000 more departures.

Employers laid off approximately 1.3 million workers in August.

Since the declines occurred prior to President Joe Biden’s mandates for businesses to coerce employees to get vaccinated or be continuously tested for COVID, speculation is that workers may have quit due to fears of the COVID Delta strain. However, it is possible that some left jobs due to mandates “in certain markets,” such as United Airlines that announced its vaccine mandate in early August.

In industries such as manufacturing, construction, transportation, and warehousing, quits barely increased. In professional and business services, which includes fields such as law, engineering, and architecture, where most employees can work from home, quitting was largely flat.

Quits rose the most in the South and Midwest.