Montgomery Planning Releases Report Highlighting Population, Housing and Employment Trends Over Past 25 Years

January 24, 2019

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Data reveals key changes since 1990 to inform update to county’s General Plan

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has issued a report entitled Montgomery County Trends: A Look at People, Housing, and Jobs Since 1990, which identifies changes in population characteristics, housing stock and employment in Montgomery County since 1990. Planners will use this data to inform the update beginning later this year of the county’s General Plan, its long-range, guiding vision for growth policies and planning initiatives for the past five decades.

The General Plan for the Maryland-Washington Regional District in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, also known as the Wedges and Corridors Plan, was adopted by the M-NCPPC in 1964 and last refined in 1993. The plan has been amended numerous times through local area master plans and countywide functional plans. Its core concepts of wedge-shaped areas of land situated between major road corridors connecting different communities have shaped Montgomery County for the past 54 years. But the technological, social, environmental and economic changes that have occurred since the plan’s adoption have led to the pressing need to refresh the plan for Montgomery County and set a direction for the future. Many of those changes are reflected in the Trends Report.

“This report is so important because it highlights today’s social, demographic and economic trends that will help us plan for Montgomery County’s tomorrow,” says Planning Director Gwen Wright. “The data will help set the direction of the General Plan update as we collaborate with community residents to shape the future of their county.”

The Trends Report will be presented to the Planning Board on January 31, 2019 and was produced by staff experts in housing, economics and demographics within Montgomery Planning’s Research and Special Projects Division.

“As we prepare to update the General Plan, we asked the question of what has changed since the last refinement, so that we can think about the future,” says Research and Special Projects Chief Caroline McCarthy. “Montgomery County today is different from the Montgomery County of 1990 in some dramatic and some subtle ways.  Our population is older and much more diverse.  We are seeing changes to homeownership rates for older and younger households. The employment base is growing even more concentrated in professional services and healthcare. In terms of demographic changes, Montgomery County is really a bellwether for trends in the country overall.”

The Trends Report presents many key findings that highlight notable changes in Montgomery County’s population, housing and employment over a 25-year period:


  • Montgomery County’s population grew 38 percent, from 765,476 to 1,058,810 residents, between 1990 and 2017.
  • People of color comprise more than 56 percent of Montgomery County’s population today, compared to 28 percent in 1990.
  • Seniors aged 65 and older now make up 16 percent of the population. This age group is expected to increase to more than 20 percent of the county’s residents by 2040.
  • Just over a third, 33 percent, of the county’s residents are foreign-born, compared to 19 percent in 1990.
  • Montgomery County’s residents are highly educated, with 59 percent holding at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 50 percent regionally.
  • The current median household income of $99,763 is about the same in value as the inflation-adjusted 1989 income.
  • Average household size increased to 2.77 from 2.65, partly driven by large immigrant households.
  • Married couples with no children under age 18 out-number married couples with children under age 18.


  • The number of housing units in Montgomery County increased by 32 percent, from 295,723 to 390,563 units, between 1990 and 2016, less than the regional increase of 50 percent.
  • The county saw a 25.3 percent increase in the number of single-family homes, including townhouses, from 1990 to 2016. In comparison, the total number of multi-family units increased by 49.5 percent during that time period.
  • The number of renters grew, from 32.1 percent of households in 1990 to 35.3 percent in 2016.
  • Homeownership among households under age 35 declined from 45 percent in 1990 to 28 percent in 2016.
  • The average value of a single-family detached home is now $675,594, with an average value of $339,311 for single-family attached homes. Average sales increased nearly 40 percent since 1997, even after adjusting for inflation.
  • Nearly 4,400 demolition permits for single family detached homes have been issued since 1990. Comparatively, there has only been limited demolition of multifamily facilities and redevelopment of these apartment buildings has resulted in a net gain of 1,028 units (756 units torn down, 1,784 created).


  • Labor force growth was somewhat faster than the growth of the overall working age population, defined as people between the ages of 16 and 65. Today, there are 31 percent more people in the labor force, but 29 percent more working age people in the county than 1990. This difference suggests people are staying in the labor force longer, beyond age 65.
  • Two industry sectors – education, health and social services; and professional, scientific and management services – employed the largest number of residents in 1990 and 2016.
  • The percentage of residents who work for the federal government declined from 15 to 13 percent. The percentage of residents who work in Montgomery County increased from 58 percent in 1990 to 62 percent in 2016.
  • Jobs in the county increased by 21 percent, from 380,000 in 1990 to 460,000 in 2016.
  • Healthcare and social assistance jobs have experienced the most growth, increasing by 111 percent since 1990.
  • Private sector jobs account for 81 percent of employment in the county.
  • The biggest declines in jobs occurred in the construction industry, from 9 percent of all jobs in 1990 to 6 percent in 2016.

For more information about the Trends Report, contact Caroline McCarthy of the Research and Special Projects Division at 301-495-4506 or

Learn more about planning for the General Plan Update.