While COVID-19 relief dollars have helped the State of Montana so far avoid the budgetary impacts of the 2020 lockdowns, restrictions, and economic shutdowns, it is pretty obvious that we will have some work to do to get Montana's economy fully back up and running.

Last week, the University of Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research hosted a two-day economic outlook seminar. Evelyn Pyburn had a good summary in the Big Sky Business Journal's "Hot Sheet" Monday morning, and will have more in-depth coverage in the upcoming print edition of the journal.

Here's the number that stood out to me from Evelyn's reporting: the number of jobs in Montana compared to last February. Here's part of her summary:

Over a third of Montana’s hospitality businesses faced severe hardship over the past year. Based upon credit card records, spending at Montana hotels and restaurants was down 34%.

While Montana has been making a comeback the number of jobs in the state are still about 16,000 lower now than last February, just prior to COVID restrictions being imposed on businesses.

Our economy now faces additional headwinds with Joe Biden's cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline permit, and additional regulations launched against oil, coal, gas, and potentially agriculture under the Biden Administration. There's also the threat of increased taxes from a Democrat-led Congress.

This makes Montana Governor Greg Gianforte's (R-MT) "Montana Comeback Plan" even more important as the state looks to dig out of the hole dug by the previous governor, and from the COVID-19 impacts.

Nearby National Parks at Night