Montana Population 2021

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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 state has reflected a moderate growth rate of 0.79%, which ranks 26th in the nation.

Montana Area and Population Density

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. The most populated counties in Montana are Yellowstone (158,980) and Missoula (117,441) counties.

Montana Gender and Religion Statistics

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.

The median age in Montana is approximately 39.8 years of age. The ratio of females to males is approximately 49.7% females to 50.3% males.

In terms of religious preferences across the state population is currently at 65% Christian based faiths, 5% non-Christian based faiths, and 30% non-affiliated with any religion.

Montana Boundary, Census, and Statehood 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 Demographics

According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Montana was:

  • White: 88.54%
  • Native American: 6.36%
  • Two or more races: 3.06%
  • Asian: 0.79%
  • Other race: 0.67%
  • Black or African American: 0.50%
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.08%

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 Population Projections

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.

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.

Montana Growth Rate

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Montana Population Rank

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Montana Population 2021

  • 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 provinces.

Montana Facts

According to 2015 US Census Bureau estimates, there are several counties in the state of Montana that have shown significant growth since the last official Census n 2010. The majority of these counties are located along the eastern border of Montana, with Richland County posting an astounding 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 Lincoln County and Sanders County also had declining populations but at a smaller rate.

Montana Population Growth Rate by County

Montana Population Density by County

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage
American Indian and Alaska Native66,8396.36%
Two or More Races32,1613.06%
Some Other Race7,0760.67%
Black or African American5,3030.50%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander8070.08%

Montana Population by Race

Montana Population Pyramid $2021


Montana Median Age







Montana Adults

There are 822,263 adults, (190,711 of whom are seniors) in Montana.

Montana Age Dependency


Age Dependency Ratio


Old Age Dependency Ratio


Child Dependency Ratio

Montana Sex Ratio







Montana Population by Age

Montana Renter vs Owner Occupied by Household Type


Montana Household Types

Type Owner Renter
Non Family52%48%


Rate of Home Ownership

Montana Households and Families

Type Count Average Size Owned
Non Family164,323152


Average Family Size


Average Household Size


Montana Households by Type

Education Attained Count Percentage
Less Than 9th Grade13,7431.90%
9th to 12th Grade32,9074.55%
High School Graduate208,54128.83%
Some College169,48423.43%
Associates Degree66,9519.26%
Bachelors Degree155,23021.46%
Graduate Degree76,43910.57%

Montana Educational Attainment by Sex (over 25)

Montana Educational Attainment by Race

Race Total High School Bachelors
Native American36,01930,8875,444
2+ Races14,14013,1454,001
Other Race4,1563,317909

The highest rate of high school graduation is among white people with a rate of 94.31%.

The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 49.80%.

Montana Educational Attainment by Race

Name Average Male Female
Less Than 9th Grade$21,008$27,006$14,910
High School Graduate$29,187$35,589$22,431
Some College$31,875$40,302$26,735
Bachelors Degree$42,388$51,534$37,148
Graduate Degree$57,471$68,343$51,624


Average Earnings


Average Male


Average Female

Montana Earnings by Educational Attainment

Montana Language by Age


Montana Language

95.83% of Montana residents speak only English, while 4.17% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 1.51% of the population.

Montana Language

Montana Poverty by Race

Name Total In Poverty Poverty Rate


Overall Poverty Rate


Male Poverty Rate


Female Poverty Rate

Poverty in Montana

The race most likely to be in poverty in Montana is Native, with 32.20% below the poverty level.

The race least likely to be in poverty in Montana is Islander, with 4.20% below the poverty level.

The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 3.15%. Among those working part-time, it was 18.55%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 19.47%.

Montana Poverty

Name Poverty
Less Than 9th Grade23.70%
High School14.00%
Some College10.35%
Bachelors or Greater4.77%

Montana Poverty Rate by Education

Rate Poverty
Female Unemployed32.80%
Male Unemployed29.39%
Female Employed8.98%
Male Employed6.86%

Montana Poverty Rate by Employment Status and Sex

Montana Income by Household Type

Name Median Mean
Married Families$80,251$100,418
Non Families$32,103$45,003

Income by Household Type

Montana Marital Status


Marriage Rates


Overall Marriage Rate


Male Marriage Rate


Female Marriage Rate

Montana Married by Age and Sex


Montana Marriage

The age group where males are most likely to be married is Over 65, while the female age group most likely to be married is 45-54.

Montana Marital Status by Race


Montana Marital Status



Number of Veterans


Male Veterans


Female Veterans

War Veterans
Second Gulf War16,996
First Gulf War16,749
World War II2,470

Montana Veterans by War

Age Group Veterans
65 to 7424,032
35 to 5419,245
55 to 6414,851
18 to 348,408

Montana Veterans by Age

Name Veterans % of Total
Native American3,2027.44%
2+ Races1,8659.97%
Other Race57512.06%

Montana Veterans by Race

Montana Veterans by Education



Veteran Poverty Rate


Veteran Disability Rate

Montana Veterans by Education



Labor Force Participation


Employment Rate


Unemployment Rate

Montana Employment by Age


Montana Employment by Race


Montana Employment by Education

Origin of Non-Citizens


Non citizens include legal permanent residents (green card holders), international students, temporary workers, humanitarian migrants, and illegal immigrants.

Origin of Naturalized Citizens



Born in Montana


Native Born


Foreign Born


Non Citizen



Place of Birth

97.81% of Montana residents were born in the United States, with 53.82% having been born in Montana. 0.99% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Europe.

Montana Place of Birth

  1. Montana Census & Economic Information Center
  2. US Census State Population Estimates - Most recent state estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program
  3. US Census County Population Estimates - Most recent county estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program
  4. American Community Survey (2009 - 2013)
  5. Census QuickFacts
  6. Historical Populations of States and Counties (1790 - 1990)