Oregon Got 1.6 Percent More Crowded This Year

Does it seem like people are moving to Oregon in droves? They are.

Oregon hit a peak in population growth this past year when the population rose by 1.6 percent, the largest population increase since the mid-1990s.

The Population Research Center at Portland State University reports that Oregon’s population increased by 62,505 people in 2016, driving the total population to 4,076,350.

The county with the largest percentage of population gain? Deschutes County, which grew by 3.5 percent. (That’s Bend, for those keeping score at home.)

What’s driving all this growth?

“People move because they want to be in communities that are likeminded with similar people,” says Risa Proehl, population estimates program manager at at PSU, “where they have friends and family, and where jobs are. People are attracted to Oregon because there are many affordable places to live here, there is control over urban sprawl, and there is access to the natural environment.”

Proehl says the majority of new arrivals are coming from California and Washington.

“Many are retirees, it’s a popular retiree destination, young families, and young single people. We are seeing a broad spectrum,” Proehl says.

The majority of population growth has taken place in urban centers—Oregon’s incorporated cities saw a 39,460 population increase, more than half of all growth. Combined population in cities totals an estimated 2,816,400—more than half of the population in the state.

Multnomah and Washington counties have seen the largest raw population gains with an increase of around 13,000 residents in each (Portland’s population increase was estimated at 14,000). Clackamas and Deschutes counties each grew by about 5,000, Marion and Lane counties added around 4,000, and Jackson grew by about 3,000. In aggregate, population growth in these counties accounted for 80 percent of the state’s population growth.

This type of growth is a sign of a strong economy says Proehl, because people are attracted to places where there’s work. But this type of population boom can have mixed impacts. “There is more of a demand on services, infrastructure, and housing,” Proehl explains. “It’s more crowded.”