Montana Population 2017

1,052,343

As of 2016, the estimated population of Montana is 1.03 million. Montana is a vast area of open space, situated in the northwest portion of the United States. It may be the fourth biggest state in the country in terms of sheer size, but its population statistics are a testament to the geography of Montana, most of which is not suitable for large development.

There are only two states in the US that are more sparsely populated than the aptly nicknamed Big Sky Country -- Alaska and Wyoming. In terms of pure population numbers, the state surpassed the 1 million mark according to estimates from the US Census Bureau for 2016. The estimated 2016 population is 1,032,949, making Montana the 44th most populous state. The state has reflected a moderate growth rate of 0.79%, which ranks 26th in the nation.

The US Census of 2010 confirmed that 989,415 people were living in Montana, 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 1.03 million.

With a sprawling land mass of 145,552.43 square miles, there are only three bigger states in the US. 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 110,263 people in 2016. Other sizable cities are Missoula (pop: 71,022) and Great Falls (pop: 59,638). 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 many states in the country.

Montana Demographics

94.8% of Montana's population speaks English, although there are many other languages spoken in the state, 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 cities -- with Great Falls having the largest concentration of urban Indians.

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Montana Population Chart

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 20,595. This was relatively small compared to other areas of the country, as the population explosion of the 1800s was slow to reach Montana.

However, increased migration helped to swell those numbers through 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 to 142,924.

Further increases followed but they began to slow down in the 1900s. 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 2016 has surpassed the 1 million mark.

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 1.16 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 could impact future growth.

Population Data via US Census

Montana Growth Rate

Montana State Rank

Year Pop % Change
2020 1,081,434 0.90%
2019 1,071,737 0.91%
2018 1,062,040 0.92%
2017 1,052,343 0.93%
2016 1,042,646 0.94%
2015 1,032,949 0.95%
2014 1,023,252 0.87%
2013 1,014,402 0.92%
2012 1,005,157 0.74%
2011 997,746 0.84%
2010 989,415 0.93%
2000 902,195 1.22%
1990 799,065 0.16%
1980 786,690 1.26%
1970 694,409 0.29%
1960 674,767 1.33%
1950 591,024 0.55%
1940 559,456 0.40%
1930 537,606 -0.21%
1920 548,889 3.85%
1910 376,053 4.45%
1900 243,329 5.47%
1890 142,924 13.82%
1880 39,159 6.64%
1870 20,595 0.00%

Montana Facts

Montana Population in 2017 Source: Sara goth

  • Most of Montana was acquired by the US during the Lousiana Purchase of 1803.
  • Fort Benton was built in 1847 by the American Fur Company, and it is the oldest continuously-populated town in the state.
  • Thousands of people relocated near Grasshopper Creek following the discovery of gold in 1862.
  • The famous battle, Custer's Last Stand, took place in 1876 along the Little Bighorn River after the US Army came to move Native Americans to reservations.
  • Montana has approximately 100 different species of mammals -- more species than any other state in the US.
  • Montana has a total of 56 counties. Forty-six of these counties have 6 or fewer people per square mile, so they are designated as "frontier counties."
  • Montana is the only US state to share borders with three Canadian countries.

Montana Population Density by County

  • Population
  • Density
  • Growth Since 2010
  • State Rank
  • % of State

Montana Population Growth Rate by County

According to 2015 US Census Bureau estimates, there are several counties in the state of Montana that have show significant growth since the last official Census n 2010. The majority of these counties are located along the eastern border of Montana, with Richalnd County posting an astouding 22.69% population growth during the 5-year period. Fallon County, located further south, has reflected a population growth of 10.5%, while over to the west, Gallatin County posted 12.7% population growth.

In terms of declining populations, the highest rates were found in the center of the state. Judith Basin County reflected a population decline of 6.69%, closely followed by Golden Valley at 6.34%. Other surrounding counties, as well as counties in the northwest such as Lncoln County and Sanders County also had declining populations but at a smaller rate.

Population Pyramid

To compare Montana to other states, click here.

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage

Data from the last US Census, taken in 2010, reported Montana's 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%).

Montana is one of the most racially homogenous states. It is ranked 49th in terms of its population of Asian Americans. The state is also ranked 50th in the nation in terms of the perentage of African Americans. However, the state does have a large number of Native American inhabitants. Despite being only the 45th most populous US state, its total Native American population ranks 19th. The population of Native Americans, at 6.5% of the state's total population, is the 6th highest percentage in the nation. Three counties in the state -- Roosevelt, Glacier, and Big Horn -- have a Native American majority population.

Languages Spoken in Montana

Language Population Percentage
Population 5 years and over 937,514 100
English 901,644 96.17
Spanish 13,930 1.49
German 7,120 0.76
Crow 3,860 0.41
French 2,305 0.25
Cheyenne 1,120 0.12
Blackfoot 1,075 0.11
Chinese 775 0.08
Norwegian 590 0.06

This chart shows the top 10 non-English languages that are spoken at home in Montana. The data comes from the most recent release of the American Community Survey (ACS).

Montana Economy

HighSchoolGraduate 92
BachelorsDegree 29
Disabled 9
NoHealthInsurance 17
LaborForceTotal 64
LaborForceFemale 60
FoodServiceSales 2,420,455
HealthCareRevenue 6,469,475
ManufacturerShipments 11,535,236
MerchantWholesalesSales 12,645,824
RetailSales 15,623,573
RetailSalesPerCapita 15,544
MeanWorkTravelTime 18
MedianHouseholdIncome 46,766
PerCapitaIncome 25,977
PovertyPercentage 15

This chart shows the employment and labor force participation rates in Montana for residents over 16 years of age. The 2015 unemployment rate is 4% and the labor force participation rate is 64%.

Montana Business

NonemployerEstablishments 86,186
AllFirms 112,419
MenOwnedFirms 55,913
WomenOwnedFirms 35,449
MinorityOwnedFirms 5,578
NonminorityOwnedFirms 102,746
VeteranOwnedFirms 11,486
NonveteranOwn 93,393

Montana Housing

HousingUnits 494,198
HousingUnits 482,825
OwnerOccupiedRate 68
OwnerOccupiedMedianValue 187,600
MonthlyOwnerCostsMortage 1,290
MonthlyOwnerCostsNoMortage 385
MedianGrossRent 696
BuildingPermits 4,826
Households 407,797
PersonsPerHousehold 2
SameHouseOneYearAgo 84
NonEnglishAtHome 4
Data Sources
  1. Census State Population Estimates - Most recent state estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program - released 6/23/2016
  2. Census County Population Estimates - Most recent county estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program - released 6/23/2016
  3. American Community Survey (2009 - 2013)
  4. Census QuickFacts