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Montana Population Growth Slows


This story is excerpted from the MT Lowdown, a weekly newsletter digest containing original reporting and analysis published every Friday.

After years of new arrivals swelling Montana’s population and straining its housing supply, new data released Dec. 19 by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the volume of net migration into the state has declined.

As of July 1, 2023, the federal demographics agency estimates Montana had 1,132,800 residents. That’s about 9,900 more than a year prior, or a 0.9% increase.

While that’s a lot of new Montanans — roughly as many people as the populations of Belgrade, Miles City or Whitefish — it’s a markedly more modest increase than the state has seen in prior years. Between mid-2021 and mid-2022, for example, the agency estimates Montana grew almost twice that fast, adding about 19,200 residents.

The agency produces its annual population estimates by extrapolating from the population counts reported following the 2020 census, adding births, subtracting deaths, and using federal records such as IRS tax returns to estimate how residents have moved between places. Equivalent county-level population statistics for 2023, which will provide an updated look at regional growth in different parts of Montana, aren’t scheduled to be available until March.

Since the 2020 census, which counted the state’s population as of April 1, 2020, the agency estimates that Montana’s population has grown by about 48,600 residents — slightly less than the current population of Bozeman proper.

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