Montana Population 2016

Montana is a vast area of open space, situated in the north west of the United States. It may be the fourth biggest state in the Union in terms of sheer size, but its population statistics are testament to the geography of Montana, most of which is not suitable for large development.

In fact, there are only two states in the union that are more sparsely populated than the aptly nicknamed Big Sky Country – Alaska and Wyoming. In terms of pure population numbers, the state is climbing steadily past the 1 million people mark, making it the 44th most populous state in the US. The estimated 2013 population of Montana is currently 1,013,097, with a moderate growth rate of 0.79%, which ranks 26th in the nation.

Montana Population 2014

At the US Census of 2010, it was confirmed that 989,415 people were living here, an increase of 9.7% from the findings of 2000. The Montana population surpassed 1 million for the first time in 2012, and it now stands at 1,013,097.

With a sprawling land mass of 147,042 square miles (381,514 square kilometers), there are only three bigger states in the whole of the USA. However, for every square mile of land, there is an average of just 6.86 people (2.65 per square kilometer) and that makes Montana the 48th most densely populated area in the country. Mountain ranges, lakes and national parks all contribute to that figure in a huge area of outstanding natural beauty.

There are few large urban areas in the state of Montana. The largest city is Billings, home to 104,170 people in 2010. Other sizable cities are Missoula (pop: 66,789) and Great Falls (pop: 58,505). If you take a look at the interactive map at the top of the page, you will see that urban areas in Montana are actually growing quite rapidly, while more rural areas are gradually becoming less populated. This is a trend that is common among virtually all states in the country.

Montana Population History

The first census in Montana was held in 1870, just after Montana was formally made a US State Territory (previously it had been a part of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Dakota territories). It recorded a population of Montana stood at 20,595. This was relatively small compared to other areas of the country as the population explosion of the 1800’s was slow to reach Montana.

However, increased migration helped to swell those numbers through to the end of the 19th century. Just ten years later, in 1880, numbers of just over 20,000 had grown by just over 90% to 39,159 but the biggest spike in the history of Montana’s population was yet to come. The survey of 1890, held just after Montana became a full US state, showed an impressive increase of 265% that took the number of residents here to 142,924.

Further increases followed but they began to slow down in the 1900’s. In fact, the 1930 Census revealed a fall of just over 2% from the numbers declared ten years earlier. That ‘blip’ aside, steady growth dominated to the point where the population of Montana in 2013 now past the 1 million mark.

Montana Demographics

The 2010 census also measured race and ethnicity. It showed that Montana has a much higher American Indian population than in many other states. The exact figures for Montana were:

  • White (89.4%)
  • Black/African American (0.4%)
  • American Indian (6.3%)
  • Asian (0.6%)
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (0.1%)
  • Other (0.6%)
  • Two or more races (2.5%)

The census also measured ancestry. By far the largest ancestral group in Montana is German, claimed by 29.3% of the population. Other major ancestral groups are Irish (16.4%), English (13.1%) and Norwegian (10.0%).

94.8% of Montana's population speaks English, although there are many languages spoken in the country, including Blackfoot, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Plains Cree, Crow, Dakota and Kutenai. This is because Montana has one of the highest Native American populations in the US, with about 66,000 people of Native American heritage. This is the result of many treaties and federal legislation, including one that recognizes the Little Shell Chippewa, a nation of "landless" people in Great Falls recognized by the state but not the federal government. About 63% of these people live off reservation, mostly in the cities with Great Falls having the largest concentration of urban Indians.

Montana Population Growth

Montana's population growth has mainly been concentrated in its seven largest counties, with the heaviest growth in Gallatin County, while the city of Kalispell has seen a growth of over 40% in the last decade. This is expected to continue, as Montana's rural areas will continue to lose people while the urban areas grow.

Montana has a moderate population growth of 0.79%, which is about middle-of-the-road in the United States. Forecasts show Montana's population will grow 14% over the next 30 years, reaching 1.044 million by 2030.

It's also estimated that by 2030, Montana will be one of ten states in the country to have more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 18, and it will be one of only six states to have 25% of its population aged 65 and older, which doesn't bode well.

Population Data via US Census