Posted by: Josh Lehner | September 5, 2013

One more on migration

Over at The Oregonian, Harry Esteve has a nice write-up on the previous post on migration trends and some of our office’s work on urban/rural issues. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the Portland vs Seattle and Oregon vs Washington comparisons (see job growth and tax comparisons, e.g.) With that being said, when it comes to city to city migration trends it turns out to pretty small on net. About 6,000-8,000 people pick-up and move from Portland to Seattle or vice versus each year. The net of all these movements is typically a few hundred. In 7 out of the past 8 years of available data, the net has swung Seattle’s way. What is probably most striking about the previous graph showing all Top 50 MSAs is the fact that for nearly every one of them, they’re moving on net to Portland. This is part of our dynamic labor supply and the ability to attract migrants consistently over time. Out of all of the large cities in the country, Portland is seeing net in-migration from nearly all of them. I suspect Seattle is the same way and these are also the findings of Portland State’s research by Jason Jurjevich and Greg Schrock that in good times and bad, migrants folk to the northwest. Sure, Portland is losing population a little bit to Seattle and it is the largest loss to any large city in the country, but over the past 3 years in total the net migration has been 410 people. 410 compared to a Portland Metro population of 2.3 million and Seattle Metro population of 3.6 million. Given the feedback I’ve seen, I just wanted to put a little more context around these trends.


Finally, just for comparison purposes, here are net migration patterns for Portland to Seattle and Clark County, Washington (Vancouver/Camas). In the first migration post, it showed that 82% of Portlanders moving to Washington moved to Clark County, while 8% moved to the Seattle MSA.


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