Beyond timber and education, Missoula's economic mainstay has been of one as a regional trade center. Today Missoula has an immediate trade area of approximately 180,000 residents and is determined by the US Department of Commerce to be the regional economic center for the western third of Montana with a population of 300,929. Key businesses sectors serving the area include health care, retail shopping, transportation, financial services, government/social services, education, events, arts and culture. Health care in particular is one of Missoula's fastest growing industries with St. Patrick Hospital (western Montana's only Level-II Trauma center) and the Community Medical Center already the city's second and third largest employers behind the university. Over all, 55% of employment in Missoula is made up of the service and retail sectors. Export industries are concentrated in heavy and civil engineering, construction, beverage production, technical services, truck transportation, and forestry/logging/wood related industries. In addition to nearly 4 million out-of-state visitors annually, which makes tourism a significant aspect of the Missoula economy, Missoula also is home to a vibrant sector of alternative healthcare.
Missoula is ranked 285 in gross metropolitan product with an output of $4.088 billion in 2009. The city ranked 314th in total personal income at $3.818772 billion, an increase from $2.197392 in 1999. Per capita income ranked 187th at $35,156 a year, 89% of the national average. As of November 2011, the Missoula (MSA)'s unemployment rate was 6.9%. As of January 2013, the Missoula (MSA)'s unemployment rate was 5.5% dropping nearly 1% in the past year.