Hitting 100,000 Residents

New census data shows Flathead County became fourth Montana county to top 100,000 in population in 2017

By Molly Priddy
Beacon file photo

Flathead County’s population grew by 2.4 percent from 2016 to 2017, bringing the county’s number of residents to an even 100,000 by July 2017, according to the latest census data.

The county added 2,307 people from 2016 to 2017, the second most of any other Montana county. As of July 2016, Flathead County had 97,693 people, and the additional residents brought the population estimate to exactly 100,000 on July 1, 2017, making it the fourth most populated county in the state.

As the population continues to grow, Flathead County faces a tight housing market, with low vacancy rates on rentals. The housing development industry has tried to keep pace; according to the Flathead County Planning and Zoning Department, there were 48 subdivisions in preliminary plat status in February in areas outside city limits, representing 991 total lots.

In Kalispell, the city council recently approved plans for a 324-unit apartment complex off Two Mile Drive, while earlier in the year it approved a permit for an apartment complex in south Kalispell with 55 apartments.

Whitefish continues to struggle with housing affordability, though the city recently approved plans for a 166-lot townhouse subdivision off JP Road, and a task force charged with developing affordable housing solutions is in the beginning stages of planning a project on what is commonly referred to as the city snow lot, a piece of city land off Railway Street between Columbia and Somers avenues.

Montana as a whole added 11,837 people from 2016 to 2017, a 1.1 percent increase, bringing its total population of 1,050,493. Gallatin County added the most people in that time with 3,738, increasing its overall population by 3.6 percent and raising the county total to 107,810.

The state’s largest county, Yellowstone, added 1,332 people, bringing the county population to 158,980. Missoula County saw an increase of 1,545 residents, upping its total to 117,441.

In the Northwest corner of the state, Lincoln County gained 210 people, for a total population of 19,440; Lake County’s population increased by 562, for a total of 30,273; Sanders County added 245 people, with a total population of 11,711; and Glacier County saw a decrease of 29 people, dropping the population to 13,640.

Flathead County Population, 2010-2017

(All figures as of July 1. Data via the U.S. Census Bureau.)

2017: 100,000 (+2,307)

2016: 97,693 (+1,955)

2015: 95,738 (+1,270)

2014: 94,468 (+1,633)

2013: 92,835 (+1,259)

2012: 91,576 (+340)

2011: 91,236 (+383)

2010: 90,853

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