The number of jobs that the manufacturing sector provides in Montana has increased at a rate more than double the national rate, according to a new report commissioned by the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center at Montana State University.

The 2017 State of Montana Manufacturing report, prepared by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana, indicates that manufacturing employment has increased 18.3 percent in the past seven years, to a total of 19,400 jobs.

The report suggests a generally positive trend in its overview of manufacturing in the state. According to the report:

*Manufacturing accounts for 27.6 percent of Montana’s gross product, up from 25.8 percent in 1997. Montana currently ranks 32nd in the country according to that figure.

* Company earnings in manufacturing have increased 14.1 percent since 2010.

*Manufacturing workers earned an average of $47,227 in 2015, which is 17.5 percent higher than the average Montana worker’s wages.

* The employment multiplier for Montana manufacturing is 3.58, meaning that for every new manufacturing job another 2.58 jobs are created in industries and services that support manufacturing.

* There were 3,344 manufacturing establishments in Montana in 2015. The largest category among those was miscellaneous manufacturing, with 691 establishments. The next largest categories were fabricated metal manufacturing (493) and food products (370).

* Most Montana manufacturers are small businesses: 85 percent of Montana’s manufacturing businesses have fewer than 20 employees.

* In terms of earnings, the two largest Montana manufacturing industries in 2015 were associated with the processing of coal and crude oil (17.9 percent of total earnings) and the processing of wood products (15.1 percent).

* The production of alcoholic beverages is a rapidly growing industry in Montana. Distilleries, wineries and breweries employed 711 people in 2015, up from 267 in 2011.

MMEC, which is housed in the College of Engineering at MSU, works with manufacturers to help them grow, innovate and make their businesses more profitable. MMEC has field offices in Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula.