This story is adapted from the MT Lowdown, a weekly newsletter digest containing original reporting and analysis published every Friday. It was originally published under the title “The Viz.”

Even with the much-remarked-upon waves of new arrivals streaming into Montana in recent years, the state is still — for now — a place where the majority of residents were born here.

That’s according to newly released 2022 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which supplements the bureau’s full decennial census counts with demographic information on a yearly basis.

That majority native-born status, isn’t, however, the demographic reality for every part of the state.

In Montana’s western congressional district, for example, a minority of the populace, between about 44 and 46%, was born in the state. The same is true for some of the state’s fastest-growing urban areas around Bozeman, Missoula and Kalispell. In Bozeman’s Gallatin County, Montana-born residents now account for less than 40% of the population, the survey data indicates.


That dynamic is reversed, however, in Yellowstone and Cascade counties, which encompass Billings and Great Falls, respectively.

Native-born residents may also be a minority in Lewis and Clark County, which includes Helena. The survey says 48.7% of residents reported being born in-state, but the 50% majority threshold is within that figure’s 4.5% margin of error.

This story is published by Montana Free Press as part of the Long Streets Project, which explores Montana’s economy with in-depth reporting. This work is supported in part by a grant from the Greater Montana Foundation, which encourages communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans. Discuss MTFP’s Long Streets work with Lead Reporter Eric Dietrich at


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Eric came to journalism in a roundabout way after studying engineering at Montana State University in Bozeman (credit, or blame, for his career direction rests with the campus's student newspaper, the Exponent). He has worked as a professional journalist in Montana since 2013, with stints at the Great Falls Tribune, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and Solutions Journalism Network before joining the Montana Free Press newsroom in Helena full time in 2019.