skip to the main content area of this page
Missoula Measures
(406) 258-3686
Missoula County Seal and image of areas around the City.

Missoula County - Missoula Measures

Department: Missoula Measures
Missoula County Home

Missoula Measures - Housing and Shelter


Related Data

graph percent of income paid for rent Missoula 2010 


Income Disparities

Missoula's distribution of income is skewed to the lower end. About 41% of all the households in Missoula make less than 80% of median income by household size.  The 2010 Census provides us with the distribution of Missoula household incomes:

Description of Income Median Range Percent of Income
Extremely Low Income (0-30% of median income) 16%
Low Income (31-50% of median income) 13%
Moderate Income (51-80% of median income) 11%
Middle Income (81-95% of median income) 15%
Median/Higher Income (>96% of median income) 42%

Source: 1990 Census for all household sizes.

Evidence of Asian and Native American Households Disproportionately Greater Need.

HUD defines "disproportionately greater need" as: when the percentage of persons in a category of need who are members of a particular racial or ethnic group is at least 10 percentage points higher than the percentage of persons in the category as a whole.


Brief Background

Population Growth & the Need for Housing

What will our residents, especially those people with low- and moderate-incomes, need for housing and homeless facilities in the next five years?

The demand for and cost of housing are directly related to population growth and household formation. Generally, as population increases there is greater demand for housing. Increased demand that is not met by a similar increase in housing supply results in higher housing costs.

Back to Top

The Five-Year Forecast for New Households

The Missoula urban area has approximately 32,000 households living in 33,300 housing units. From 1999-2004, the number of Missoula urban-area households is expected to grow 2.25% per year, resulting in a five-year increase of 3,600 households.

The demographic forecasts provided in the Sylvester Report suggest that the increased number of households are expected in these household categories:

Domestic forecast Table
Household Category Number of Households Added by 2004
Married couples +1,800
Unmarried/no children +417
Single women over 65+ (alone)  + 886
Senior households 65+ (couples) +459
Other +38
Total New Households +3,600

While Missoula saw growth rates in excess of 2% in 1992 and 1993, the growth rate has subsequently fallen. Based on long-term data on growth rates, Missoula County is forecast to grow at an average rate of 1.4% over the next 10 years. This would add an additional 11,634 people to Missoula County over that period. By comparison, Missoula County added 12,800 people during the time period 1990-1998.

The changing demographics of this increased population will have a significant effect upon both the job market and the housing market. As Missoula continues to evolve into a service and trade center, the number of jobs generated in the economy is derived in part from population growth itself. Thus, as Missoula adds more people, these people generate the demand for more service and retail trade jobs. As noted above, average wages in these sectors, excluding health services, are lower paying jobs unable to support housing costs within the 30% of annual income standard for housing affordability.

The number of households in Missoula will grow at an average rate of 2.25% per year over the next five years, as compared to a growth in population of 1.4%. In terms of housing, we will need to provide units to fit the household growth, not the population growth. This is due in part from the increase in people over 65 who will be living alone. It is also due in part to the number of people in the 25-45 age range who will be looking to form households together. As a result, more housing units will be needed than one would expect from the numbers of people. From 1990 to 1998 Missoula added about 17% more households. From 1999-2008, the number of households in Missoula will expand another 21%. This is 40% more households than Missoula added from 1990 to 1998. Missoula is forecast to add 720 households each year to the urban area.

School-age children will be declining over the next ten years. However, there will be an on-going, though smaller, stream of young families looking to become homebuyers and considering school location in their decision on where to locate. It is also likely that the necessity for both parents to work will increase in the future, further challenging the community with pre-school and school-age child care needs.

Perhaps the most dramatic change in demographics will be in the number of senior women living alone, which will grow by 886 over the next five years. Many of these women will be living on small fixed incomes. (Source: 1999 Consolidated Plan, Missoula Housing Coordinator)

Back to Top

Income and Wages Related to Housing

"Currently about 36% of the income in the Missoula economy comes from non-wage income, largely from investments and transfer payments. Most of these payments go to seniors. This leaves most younger households reliant upon wages for their income. The percentage of income from non-wage sources is forecast to grow to 40% by 2008.

The effect of this shift in income sources is to make the Missoula economy less sensitive to sudden changes in wage income, for example, from a plant closure."

Total employment in Missoula County has been rising, from a ratio of 52% of total population in 1977 to almost 72% in 1998. This increasing ratio reflects several factors: increased labor force participation by women, increased doubling up on jobs, and increased number of workers living outside of Missoula County. Total employment is forecast to increase at 1.2% per year. This trend gives an indication of two things: increased incidence of two-earner households generating household income; and increased workers seeking housing beyond the Missoula county border.

In real terms corrected for inflation, average wage income per worker declined over the past ten years and is only now regaining the level it had reached in 1987. Over the next five years, it is projected to rise more quickly than inflation, to result in a real gain of 5.5%. This is assuming that inflation remains at about 2.2-2,3% per year. The loss of real buying power from labor income occurred at the time that housing costs rose dramatically. This compounded the increasing difficulty households dependent upon labor income experienced in finding affordable rental housing and in being able to purchase their own homes.

The above statistics are calculated as average wage income per worker. However, the largest growing sectors of the Missoula economy are those with low average wages per job. Service sector jobs, excluding health services, were the largest area of increase, accounting for 2031 jobs in the period 1992-1997 that averaged $17,873 in annual wages in 1997. The next largest sector was retail trade, which added 2008 jobs which averaged $13,362 in annual wages. Together, these two sectors accounted for 55% of all jobs. Health services came third and accounted for almost 12% of the jobs, with 874 jobs which averaged $29,406 in annual wages. Taken together, all services and retail trade accounted for 2/3 of all the net job gains in the Missoula economy. This share is projected to increase, to constitute over 85% of job growth over the next 10 years.

Sources: Missoula Consolidated Plan, Missoula Housing Coordinator, (All data comes from four sources: the Consolidated Plan; the MHA May housing report; Larry Swanson’s study done for the Consolidated Plan; Jim Sylvester’s study done for the Consolidated Plan. )



Related Websites

Missoula Office of Planning and Grants - Information about owner-occupied housing, income and mortgage payments, etc.

Links to health data, statistics and information from many national sources.


public health logo

Back to Top

Site Navigation

Health Department Divisions

 Missoula Measures

Search Health Sites