The last decade has shown important changes in Montana’s population based on the release today of the 2020 Census Redistricting Data.
The state’s population grew 10% over the decade. Most of Montana’s counties continued to grow (38) from 2010 to 2020 although slower than the previous decade. Gallatin grew the fastest both in number of residents (29,447) and in percentage growth (33%). Rosebud County lost the most residents (904) over the decade and Liberty County had the largest percentage decline (16%). The average growth in urban counties and those counties west of the Continental Divide was higher than that of rural or eastern counties.
Montana became more diverse. White Alone or in Combination decreasing from 92% to 91% of the population. American Indian / Alaskan Native Alone or in Combination are the largest minority group making up 9% of the state. The percentage of residents identifying as Hispanic also grew from 3% in 2010 to 4% in 2020.
Reservation areas grew by 5% overall with Flathead gaining the most residents (2,490) and Fort Belknap seeing the greatest percentage increase 19%.
Along with population counts, counts by race, ethnicity and voting age are available for County, Place, State Legislative, School Districts, and other levels of Census geography.
The information released today will be used by the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission to determine the boundaries for Montana’s two congressional districts and to redraw local legislative districts. Because of the growth in Montana’s population announced earlier this year, the state gained a second Congressional seat.
In addition to forming the basis for congressional, legislative, and school districts, Montana annually receives more than $2 billion in federal funding, which is distributed based on Census data. These dollars fund more than 300 programs including highway planning, health care, educational programs, and community infrastructure.
The federal government conducts the constitutionally mandated population count of all residents in the United States every 10 years. The role of states is to help promote the importance of responding to the count.
Last year, the U.S. Census Bureau suspended field operations from March to early May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Census Bureau reports a 99% accounting of households in Montana with 60.4% self-responding by internet, phone, or mail.
For more information about the 2020 Census, visit the Census and Economic Information Center at the Montana Department of Commerce at CEIC.MT.GOV.