Flathead County

U.S. Census: Flathead County Adds Most Residents in Montana

The latest population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau show the county gained 3,089 residents last year

By Micah Drew
A subdivision meets farmland off of Three Mile Drive on the westside of Kalispell on Sept. 22, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Flathead once again added the most residents among Montana counties last year, adding 3,089 residents between 2021 and 2022, according to the latest population growth data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The federal government released the latest population counts for the nation’s more than 3,000 counties on March 30. In Montana, 40 of the state’s 56 counties saw a population increase. The 16 counties that saw population declines did so by a cumulative 850 residents.

In contrast, the Treasure State gained more than 16,500 new residents between July 1, 2021 and July 1, 2022, less than the previous year but continuing the state’s fast-paced growth trend from the last few years. Flathead, Gallatin, Lewis and Clark, Missoula, Ravalli and Yellowstone counties all added more than 1,000 residents, but Flathead grew the fastest among the state’s largest counties with a 2.84% increase.

Percent Change in County Population: July 1, 2021, to July 1, 2022 Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Nearly all the state’s most populous counties saw a slowdown in growth compared to the prior year, with Gallatin County, home to Bozeman and Montana State University, pumping the brakes the hardest. Between 2020 and 2021, Gallatin County saw an influx of 3,466 residents; the latest data shows only 1,806 newcomers. Flathead County during the previous count added 3,863 residents.

Lincoln County was one of the fastest growing counties in terms of percentage, adding 954 residents for a nearly 5% population boost.

Nationally, the 10 fastest growing counties were all in the West or South, with Whitman County, Washington, home to Washington State University, growing by more than 10%. Other counties with college populations saw a large rebound last year, following a lull during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maricopa County, Arizona, added the most residents with 56,831 in 2022, while the biggest county in the U.S., Los Angeles County, decreased in population by 90,704.