HELENA — New projections released Wednesday show Montana’s population growing by 14.1 percent, or 144,413 people, from 2013 to 2043.
The Census & Economic Information Center of the state Commerce Department issued the numbers. They were produced for all 56 counties by eREMI, the Regional Economic Models Inc., a company based in Amherst, Mass.
Under the projections, Montana’s population would increase from 1,021,780 this year to 1,166,193 in 2043.
“These population projections are invaluable to our communities for the purpose of planning and developing policies as well as understanding regional growth,” Commerce Director Meg O’Leary said.
The county-by-county projections actually run by year through 2060, although Joe Ramler, senior research economist for the state Census & Economic Information Center, recommended going out only 20 years to 2033 or 30 years to 2043.
“The farther out into the future, the less confident we are in the accuracy,” he said.
However, the projections for 2060 showed Montana’s population at 1,267,936 for a growth of 24.1 percent over the 2013 number.
Under the 2043 forecasts, 35 counties would see an increase in population over 2013, while 21 would lose population.
By county, here are the top 10 largest percentage increases from 2013 to 2043 and the gain by number. They are a combination of some of the more populous counties as well as some less populous Eastern Montana counties that are experiencing growth from the oil development there.
-- Petroleum, 57.4 percent, or 319 more people.
-- Gallatin, 33.2 percent, 31,179 more people.
-- Fallon, 29.2 percent, 964 more people.
-- Missoula, 26.4 percent, 29,886 more people.
-- Richland, 26.1 percent, 2,789 more people.
-- Flathead, 24.3 percent, 22,832 more people.
-- Custer, 23.9 percent, 3,009 more people.
-- Deer Lodge, 21.2 percent, 1,965 more people.
-- Yellowstone, 19.2 percent, 29,851 more people.
-- Wibaux, 18.7 percent, 196 more people.
Numbers for the other more populous counties that showed gains were Lewis & Clark, 16.1 percent, 10,608 more people; Cascade, 15 percent, 12,565 more people; and Ravalli, 11.1 percent, 4,530 more people.
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In contrast, here are the projected biggest losses by percentage from 2013 to 2043, and the loss by number:
-- Big Horn, down 24.9 percent, or 3,230 fewer people.
-- Stillwater, down 24.5 percent, 2,313 fewer people.
-- Rosebud, down 12.4 percent, 1,147 fewer people.
-- Chouteau, down 11.2 people, 655 fewer people.
-- Glacier, down 9.1 percent, 1,257 fewer people.
-- Phillips, down 7.3 percent, 313 fewer people.
-- Carbon, down 7.3 percent, 716 fewer people.
-- Mineral, down 6.9 percent, 290 fewer people.
-- Meagher, down 5.9 percent, 110 fewer people.
-- Liberty, down 5.3 percent, 126 fewer people.
Silver Bow County is forecast to experience a 1.9 percent population loss over the 30-year period, or 647 fewer people.
The projections also are broken down by age groups and gender.
The county-by-county population and demographic projections can be seen at http://ceic.mt.gov/Population/PopProjectionsTitlePage.aspx.
Ramler said the population projections illustrate how Montana as a state is projected to continue to have a growing percentage of people aged 65 and older. Previous studies have called this trend “the graying of Montana.”
In 2010, 15 percent of Montanans were 65 percent and older, he said. That is projected to increase to 19.5 percent in 2020, 23.2 percent in 2030 and 23.5 percent in 2040.
“More and more folks are needing services and dependent on fewer people,” Ramler said. “Fewer people are paying taxes. More are demanding Medicare and Social Security.”
Because of uncertainty in the Bakken oil development in Eastern Montana, the Census & Economic Information Center has done two additional population scenarios for 16 counties in addition to the eREMI one. It relied on research done by the Montana Transportation Department, which used another REMI model to study the impact of the Bakken oil development on the region.
Ramler said the two additional forecasts allocate to the each of the 16 counties the potential regional effects of the Transportation Department’s forecasts if more aggressive oil development and accelerated production occurs.