Billings, Montana Demographics

Billings is the largest city in Montana with a population of around 110,000 residents. Known as the “Magic City” for its rapid early growth, Billings remains an economic hub for the region. This in-depth guide will explore key demographic details about Billings to understand who lives here and what makes up this community.

Population & Growth

Current Population

As of 2020 census estimates, Billings had a population of 110,938 residents, making it by far the largest city in Montana. The Billings metropolitan area, encompassing Yellowstone County, has about 181,000 residents.

The city has grown rapidly in recent decades. Since 1990, Billings’ population has increased over 33% from around 82,000 to over 110,000 today.

Population History

Billings first boomed around the late 19th century as a railroad town and cattle market, quickly growing from about 200 residents in 1882 to over 10,000 by 1910. This fast expansion in its early development earned it the nickname “Magic City.”

Its population growth slowed for most of the 1900s, hovering between around 30,000 to 80,000 residents for much of the mid-20th century. A key driver in recent growth from the 80,000s in 1990 to over 110,000 today has been the region’s healthcare, finance, real estate, and retail industries.

Population Projections

Population projections expect Billings to continue growing at over 1% annually this decade, potentially reaching 130,000 residents by 2030. Factors likely contributing to this continued growth are expanded economic opportunities drawing new residents along with natural growth.

Age & Gender

Age Structure

In terms of age structure, Billings has a roughly similar profile to national averages. The median age is 36.7 years old. By age segments:

  • 22.1% are under age 18
  • 59.5% are age 18 to 64
  • 18.4% are over age 65

It has a slightly lower proportion of college-age adults and slightly more middle-aged residents compared to nationwide rates.

Gender Split

In terms of gender, Billings has a relatively even split:

  • 49.5% of residents are male
  • 50.5% of residents are female

This varies slightly across age groups, with more women in older segments and vice versa.

Race & Ethnicity

Billings is much less ethnically diverse than the overall United States population:

  • 89.7% are White
  • 4.3% are Hispanic/Latino
  • 3.3% are Native American
  • 0.7% are Black
  • 2.0% are other/mixed races

However, it has been diversifying in recent decades. For example, the Hispanic/Latino portion of residents has increased over 250% since 1990 as more people move for job opportunities.

Households & Families

Households

There are about 45,500 households in Billings.

  • 30.4% are married couple families with children
  • 34.3% are married couples without children
  • 6.8% are single mothers
  • 5.3% are single fathers
  • 23.3% are non-family households

So a majority are family households, but still a sizable single and non-family segment.

Average Household Size

The average household size is 2.31 people. By type of household:

  • Married with children households average 3.42 people
  • Married without children households average 2.14 people
  • Single mother households average 3.12 people
  • Single father households average 2.58 people
  • Non-family households average 1.27 people

Income

Billings’ median household income is $59,366, slightly above the overall U.S. median. However, 18.9% of residents live below the poverty line, higher than the national poverty rate.

By income segment in Billings:

  • 22.5% earn $100k+ yearly
  • 34.2% earn $50k to $100k
  • 22.4% earn $25k to $50k
  • 11.0% earn $15k to $25k
  • 9.9% earn under $15k

So Billings has relatively high upper-middle class representation but also a sizable lower-income population.

Education

In terms of education levels among adults 25+ in Billings:

  • 7.3% have graduate/professional degrees
  • 16.8% have bachelor’s degrees
  • 29.2% have some college credits
  • 31.5% have a high school diploma only
  • 15.2% did not complete high school

So Billings is less educated overall than the general U.S., with lower rates of bachelor’s and graduate degrees.

Jobs & Economy

Top occupations held by Billings residents include:

  • Management, business, and financial operations
  • Sales related
  • Office and administrative support
  • Transportation and moving material
  • Construction, maintenance, production, and agriculture

The largest industries in Billings are:

  • Healthcare (3 major hospital networks & clinics)
  • Retail
  • Accommodation & food service
  • Professional services
  • Construction

Billings serves as a major regional hub for healthcare access and shopping with chains like Walmart and Target. Energy and agriculture are also large economic drivers in the area and statewide. Unemployment is very low at approximately 2%.

Housing

Most homes in Billings are detached single-family units (61%), with a mix of duplexes, apartments, and mobile homes making up most other units.

The median home value is $259,500, having rapidly increased in recent years. Median gross rent is $868/month. Due to fast rising prices, housing availability and affordability have become more challenging.

Neighborhoods

There are diverse neighborhoods across Billings offering different home styles and amenities. A few highlights:

Downtown

  • Historic downtown with shops, restaurants, breweries
  • Condos and apartments in renovated buildings
  • Walkable to events and the Yellowstone River

West End

  • Mid-century homes and new developments
  • Parks and bike trails
  • Shopping, dining, entertainment cluster

Heights

  • Early 20th century homes with character
  • Tree-lined streets, community events
  • Specialty shops and cafes

South Side

  • Post-war homes and newer properties
  • Close proximity to South Billings Boulevard retail corridor

Quality of Life

Billings offers an excellent overall quality of life as a small city with access to nature, arts, sports, events, healthcare, shopping, dining, and more. Key quality of life metrics and highlights include:

Safety

  • Violent crime rates significantly below national rates
  • Property crime rates similar to national rates

Parks & Recreation

  • 30+ parks and 100+ miles of multi-use trails throughout Billings
  • Access to Yellowstone River for fishing, floating, trails
  • City leagues for sports like volleyball, basketball and baseball

Arts & Culture

  • Alberta Bair Theater hosting concerts and performances
  • Western Heritage Center and Yellowstone Art Museum
  • Summer concert series and events

Schools

  • 20+ elementary schools, 6 middle schools, and 6 high schools
  • Rocky Mountain College, MSU-Billings College, and Yellowstone College

Billings offers quality K-12 education with reasonable class sizes and access to higher learning opportunities.

The Magic City Today

In summarizing key details about Billings’ people and population today, we see a steadily-growing small city that is still dominated by middle-class white-collar employment and working families settling down. Recent growth factors show the local economy’s strength in supporting new residents and opportunities.

While lacking in ethnic diversity, continued in-migration over time may introduce more blending of cultures. An affordable cost of living and job market makes it attractive for transplants.

And the access to outdoors, events, commerce, and other amenities make Billings a rich community for families and singles alike. For these reasons, the Magic City should keep steadily growing and improving for decades to come.

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Directions

  • Start out going northwest on Main St toward N 28th St. Take the 1st right onto N 28th St. Turn right onto Grand Ave, then quickly turn left to merge onto I-90 W toward Sheridan. Follow I-90 W for approximately 70 miles, then take exit 442 for Blue Creek Rd toward Billings. Turn right onto Blue Creek Rd and the destination will be on your right after about 0.3 miles.
  • Head west on Main St toward N 29th St. Turn right onto N 29th St, followed by a slight left to merge onto I-90 W. Stay on I-90 W, driving for roughly 70 miles, before taking the Blue Creek Rd exit on the right. Take the ramp onto Blue Creek Rd and go straight for 0.3 miles until you arrive at 3910 Blue Creek Rd on your right.
  • Start by getting on I-90 W from Main St. Drive on the interstate for about 70 miles then take exit 442 to merge onto Blue Creek Rd. As soon as you exit, turn right to continue on Blue Creek Rd. 3910 Blue Creek Rd will be around 0.3 miles down the road on your right side. The travel time should be just over an hour from downtown Billings.