Flathead County

Flathead’s Brisk Growth Rate Shows Signs of Slowing

The county once again led the state in total population growth, but last year’s increase of 1,794 residents was by far the smallest in three years

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

Flathead once again led the state’s counties in population growth in 2023, but, like Montana as a whole, the pace at which the county is adding new residents continues to slow, according to the latest population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Between July 1, 2022 and July 1, 2023 the county added 1,794 residents for a growth rate of 1.6%. That led every Montana county in total population growth. However, Lewis and Clark County, home to Helena, led the state’s urban counties in percentage growth at 1.7%. Montana grew by just 0.9% during that time.

Flathead County’s total population now stands at 113,679 and, while it continues to add hundreds of new people a year, the local population trends are beginning to return to pre-Covid norms as population increases are being distributed more evenly across the country, according to the Census.

The U.S. population saw a slight uptick in growth last year, adding 1.6 million people and growing by 0.5% to 334,914,895. That’s still historically low, but it’s higher than the previous two years. The South still leads in population growth, followed by the West, which includes Montana.

Since the spring of 2020, when Covid-19 was declared a pandemic and much of the country first shut down, Montana has added 48,568 people, with Flathead County accounting for 9,325 of those new residents. Between 2020 and 2021, Flathead added 3,893 people and the following year another 3,116.

All of the local population increase can be attributed to people migrating to the county, according to the Census. Deaths actually outpaced births in the Flathead County over that same time period by 87 people.