The latest census kind of went unnoticed as we were distracted last year, but there were all of those commercials for a while telling us to participate. Well, Montanans participated and we scored ourselves a second U.S. House seat.

The state grew quite a bit since the last census, nearly 10%, bringing our population to more than 1,080,000 residents. Similar to the rest of the country, our cities grew while our rural communities declined in population. Billings is still the biggest city in Montana, in the most populated county of Yellowstone, with Gallatin County (Bozeman) moving into second place, making Missoula County now the third most populated. Missoula County now has about 118,000 residents.

As expected, Montana is still one of the least ethnically and racially diverse in the country. Just 6% of Montana residents identify as Native American, which is a little less than in the last census, and 83% checked the non-Hispanic White box.

The census, of course, is more than just interesting information, as I mentioned earlier, our population determines boundaries of congressional and legislative districts, of which, we now have two. The state also receives more than $2 billion in federal funding each year, to be used for schools, health care, highways, and things of that nature. The census data is used to make community decisions, services for senior citizens, implement job training centers, and get grand funding for important programs. So when you're invited to take part in the next one, you probably should.

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