Montana resumes regular license plate production

Production was stalled in October due to supply chain shortages

By: - December 14, 2021 6:09 pm

Montana Department of Corrections

The Montana Department of Corrections received around 40,000 pounds of aluminum last week, allowing regular license plate production to resume after it stalled in October due to supply chain disruptions.

“Last week’s delivery provides us with enough material to make more than 200,000 aluminum license plates and take us through February or March 2022,” said Montana Correctional Enterprises Administrator Gayle Butler in a press release. “Workers in the license plate shop are working overtime to get us caught up.”

Employees in the license plate shop make a starting pay scale of $.40 to $.85 per hour, according to a 2020 report.

Montana Correctional Enterprises, which is a division of the Department of Corrections, provides training for incarcerated people reentering communities in a variety of work industries.

Aluminum shortages — from pandemic-induced supply chain issues — were felt across the country in the fall and led to a 48 percent jump in demand  for prices, which hit a 13-year high, according to Bloomberg. The department said in the release that its aluminum supply ran out at the end of October and it received “no clear guidance from suppliers regarding when the shop could expect to receive its next shipment.”

Looking at Arizona and North Carolina, which both had license plate production disrupted by supply chain kinks, Butler forecasted in October the possible evaporation of aluminum supply shortage and the resulting disruption of license plate production.

To remedy the situation, Montana Correctional Enterprises and the Motor Vehicle Division printed license plates on the same reflective sheeting used in its regular production process without the aluminum backing.

Montana Correctional Enterprises provides work experience and transitional services for incarcerated people reentering communities.

Anyone who does not receive a replacement plate by April 30, 2022, should contact MVD at [email protected] for more information.

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Keith Schubert
Keith Schubert

Keith Schubert was born and raised in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2019. He has worked at the St.Paul Pioneer Press, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and most recently, the Asbury Park Press, covering everything from local craft fairs to crime and courts to municipal government to the Minnesota state legislature. In his free time, he enjoys cheering on Wisconsin sports teams and exploring small businesses. Keith is no longer a reporter with the Daily Montanan.