MISSOULA - Montana added 17,000 new residents this year, marking a population gain of 1.5%, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The increase places the state among the top 10 for population gains in 2022, just behind Florida, which grew at 1.9%, South Carolina, Texas, and South Dakota.
“Eighteen states experienced a population decline in 2022, compared to 15 and Washington, D.C., the prior year,” the Census Bureau said in its report. “California, with a population of 39 million and Illinois, with a population of 12.5 million, also had six-figure decreases in resident population.”
While data related to the growth of Montana cities and counties won't be released until next year, the addition of new residents brings the state's population to 1.12 million.
Current 2022 estimates suggest that Missoula County now claims 120,000 residents, a 9.5% increase from 2010. However, Gallatin County is now estimated to be Montana's second most populated county with 124,800 residents — up more than 39% since 2010.
“That growth was supported by the in-migration of households arriving here from other states,” the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana wrote. “Montana’s net migration rate is now three times higher than the average for the last two decades.”
The rate of growth has placed pressure on the housing market, both in Missoula and beyond, and it has revealed the state's current housing shortage. But it may also be good for business, researchers have said.
BBER plans to explore the issue in an upcoming seminar planned in March.
“For those on the move, the promise of keeping their jobs in the big city while enjoying the lifestyle and space of the West has had a powerful appeal,” UM researchers said. “Their arrival is sure to be felt in everything from housing markets to the political landscape.”