Montana Population 2017

1,052,967

As of 2017, the estimated population of Montana is 1.05 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 2017 population is 1.05 million, 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.

Montana Population History

The eastern and central parts of Montana were acquired as early as the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, but had no organized government until Nebraska Territory was established in 1854. The northwestern part of Montana was included in the newly established Oregon Territory in 1848. The whole of the present-day State was included in Idaho Territory in 1863, and was established as a separate territory in 1864 with essentially its present boundaries. Montana was admitted as a State on November 8, 1889.

In 1860 census coverage of present-day Montana was limited to two forts enumerated in Nebraska Territory and some settlers in the Bitter Root Valley enumerated in Washington Territory. In 1870 census coverage included all of the present State.

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 Population Rank

Year Pop % Change
20201,084,3080.97%
20191,073,8610.98%
20181,063,4140.99%
20171,052,9671.00%
20161,042,5201.01%
20151,032,0730.90%
20141,022,8670.84%
20131,014,3140.91%
20121,005,1960.74%
2011997,8210.85%
2010989,4150.93%
2000902,1951.22%
1990799,0650.16%
1980786,6901.26%
1970694,4090.29%
1960674,7671.33%
1950591,0240.55%
1940559,4560.40%
1930537,606-0.21%
1920548,8893.85%
1910376,0534.45%
1900243,3295.47%
1890142,92413.82%
188039,1596.64%
187020,5950.00%

Montana Facts

Montana Population in 2018Source: 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

Yellowstone County

  • Population156,946
  • Density59.61 per sq km
  • Growth Since 20105.75%
  • State Rank1
  • % of State15.21%

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

0k2k4k6k8kMontana Male Population0k2k4k6k8kMontana Female Population

To compare Montana to other states, click here.

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage
Two or More Races27,4222.65%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander9220.09%
Asian8,5820.83%
American Indian and Alaska Native67,9166.57%
Black or African American6,2500.61%
White921,85789.25%

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
Norwegian5900.06%
Chinese7750.08%
Blackfoot1,0750.11%
Cheyenne1,1200.12%
French2,3050.25%
Crow3,8600.41%
German7,1200.76%
Spanish13,9301.49%
English901,64496.17%
Population 5 years and over937,514100.00%

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

IndicatorValue
High school graduate or higher 92.4%
Bachelor's degree or higher 29.1%
With a Disability 9%
Persons Without Health Insurance 16.9%
In Civilian Labor Force 63.9%
In Civilian Labor Force (Female) 59.9%
Food Services Sales $2,420,455
Health Care Revenue $6,469,475,000
Manufacturers Shipments $11,535,236,000
Merchant Wholesaler Sales $12,645,824,000
Total Retail Sales $15,623,573,000
Total Retail Sales per Capita $15,544
Mean Travel Time to Work 18.3 minutes
Median Household Income $46,766
Per Capita Income (past 12 months) $25,977
Persons in Poverty 15.4%

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

IndicatorValue
Total Nonemployer Establishments 86,186
All firms 112,419
Men-owned Firms 55,913
Women-owned Firms 35,449
Minority-owned Firms 5,578
Nonminority-owned Firms 102,746
Veternan-owned Firms 11,486
Nonveteran-owned Firms 93,393

Montana Housing

IndicatorValue
Housing Units 482,825
Owner Occupied Housing Rate 67.7%
Median Value Owner Occupied Housing Units $187,600
Median Monthly Owner Costs (w/Mortgage) $1,290
Median Monthly Owner Costs (no mortgage) $385
Median Gross Rent $696
Building Permits 4,826
Households 407,797
Persons per Household 2.4 persons
Living in Same House 1 Year Ago 83.5%
Language Other than English Spoken at Home 4.2%
Data Sources
  1. US Census State Population Estimates - Most recent state estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program
  2. US Census County Population Estimates - Most recent county estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program
  3. American Community Survey (2009 - 2013)
  4. Census QuickFacts
  5. Historical Populations of States and Counties (1790 - 1990)