Small Towns in the Western U.S. Achieving Population and Economic Growth

A small town success story in Montana is indicative of a larger trend in the Western United States. Meanwhile, small towns in the rest of the country struggle.

1 minute read

April 6, 2019, 1:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Rural Community

Life in Hamilton, Montana. | Malachi Jacobs / Shutterstock

David J. Lynch provides a dispatch from Hamilton, Montana, where the town of 4,728 people is growing in population and economic might while small towns decline in other parts of the country.

Lynch is making a larger point that Hamilton's success of reflective of small towns around the western United States. "Western towns with fewer than 5,000 residents grew by an average of nearly 8 percent from 2010 to 2017, according to the Census Bureau, while similar-sized communities in the Northeast and Midwest shrank. Those in the South grew barely 1 percent."

In what must seem like insult to injury to the small towns on the other end of the spectrum, Lynch writes that Hamilton "offers no obvious formula for success" to transfer to struggling small towns around the United States. "Hamilton’s endurance instead only highlights the challenges confronting the nation’s endangered small towns," writes Lynch.

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