Ask most Montanans, they'll tell you they don't want to leave the Treasure State. But this might be a myth perpetuated by Montanas and what we say about it.

A friend says that Montana has "a really long umbilical cord," that you can leave the state but seem to find your way back. Then there's the "Marshmallow Theory" about Missoula, that it's sticky and comfortable and people always come back. A major theme of "A River Runs Through It" is about not wanting to leave Montana.

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But then, there's also the adage that says Montana's most valuable export is its young people. That Montanans grow up here but then move somewhere else. That was the case with me, but then, the marshmallow, or umbilical cord, brought me back.

But what does the data say about how many Montanans stay in Montana? It says that Montana's "stickiness" score is not very high.

The Independent had an article about the 5 "stickiest" and least "sticky" states in America using data from a study done by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. They say that sticky states are "often warmer, [and] tend to offer better economic conditions than nonstick states."

Given those parameters, it's no surprise that Montana's neighbor, Wyoming is the least "sticky" state in the country. Did Montana fare just as badly? No.

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Montana's overall "stickiness" was at about 58%. Putting that in context, the stickiest state, Texas, has "approximately 82% of native Texans still living [in Texax] in 2021." Wyoming was at roughly 45%.

The study did say, "...the pandemic didn't affect stickiness scores much."

So we have data to confirm that yes, Montanans leave. Now we just need the study showing how many Montanans come back.

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