Missoula is a city located in the state of Montana. It is located in Missoula County, where it is the county seat. With an estimated population of 72,072, Missoula is the second largest city in the state.
Evidence shows that the area that is now Missoula was first inhabited about 12,000 years ago. In the 18th century, the city was primarily occupied by native tribes including the Shoshone, Blackfeet, and Salish.
The first citizens of the United States came to the area during the expedition of Lewis and Clark of the 19th century, where they camped nearby during their westbound trip and their return. In 1860, Hell Gate Village was established by Frank Worden and Christopher Higgins. It was originally located about five miles west of the current-day downtown area, but the need for a water supply led to relocation just four years later.
Missoula Mills was established in 1866 and was the county seat. Fort Missoula was created during the next decade to offer protection for settlers. The area continued to grow when the Northern Pacific Railway arrived, and during the same year, Missoula was designated as a town. Many sawmills were opened during this period because of the need for lumber to construct bridges and railways. This launched the city’s lumber industry, which was an essential part of the economy through the 20th century.
Logging was a primary industry throughout the mid-20th century with the opening of the Hoerner-Waldorf pulp mill, although the pulp mill severely impacted the air quality. However, the lumber industry was affected by a recession in the 1980s, which led to the city focusing on other sectors.
Today, education and health care are the primary drivers of the economy. The University of Montana is a higher education institution that has been expanded and renovated significantly in recent years. The city’s hospital, St. Patrick Hospital, and Health Sciences Center, was founded in 1873 and has since gone through several expansions.
Missoula Population and Economy Statistics
Missoula has an estimated population of over 72,000 people. Spread across over 29 square miles, the city has a population density of 2,300 people per square mile.
The largest age group is 25 to 44, making up almost 30% of the population. Almost 18% of the population is under 18, while 10.7% are at least 65 years old. There are more female residents than males, with women accounting for 50.1% of the total population. Over 95% of residents at least 25 years old have at least a high school education, while 45.7% have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, exceeding both the state and national averages. About 19.7% of the population live below the federal poverty line.
The city’s largest employers include Missoula County Public Schools, the city’s hospital and the University of Montana.
Missoula Population Growth
Missoula started quite small, with a population of just 400 in 1870. This number decreased further in 1880. However, the community jumped by over 887% in 1890, bringing the population to over 3,400. Though the city never saw growth quite this substantial again, it has seen continuous growth throughout its history. In 1950, the city’s population exceeding 22,000. This number rose to over 57,000 in 2000. Recent estimates show that the population has risen 7.9% since the last census was taken in 2010.
Missoula, Montana's estimated population is 74,428 according to the most recent United States census estimates. Missoula, Montana is the 2nd largest city in Montana based on official 2017 estimates from the US Census Bureau.
The population density is 2546.22 people/mi² (983.10 people/km²).
The overall median age is 32.7 years, 32.3 years for males, and 33.5 years for females. For every 100 females there are 100.6 males.
Based on data from the American Community Survey, in 2017 there were 32,755 households in the city, with an average size of 2.19 people per household. The homeowner vacancy rate was 0.5%, with a median rent of $785/month. The median house has 4.8 rooms, and has a value of $253,100.
The median income for households in Missoula, Montana is $43,602, while the mean household income is $63,321.