Posted by: Josh Lehner | September 16, 2015

Population and Housing, Some History

I was on OPB “Think Out Loud” on Tuesday, talking about housing, migration and the Timber Belt. One aspect we discussed was the fact Oregon had two really big wave of migrants, in the 1970s and 1990s. Below I plot annual population growth by decade for the past 65 years. Growth was strong in the 1950s and 1960s, however the 70s wave was a bit bigger, particularly at the state level. Furthermore by the 1970s the base population was bigger as well, thus resulting in more individuals moving, even with a similar growth rate. Migration and population growth were slow in the 1980s, in fact Oregon lost population for a couple years following the early 80s recession and timber industry restructuring. [See here for more on the timber industry’s history in Oregon, also a topic discussed on OPB.] Migration and population growth returned in full force in the 1990s, along with a booming economy. Many of these migrants were from California, particularly SoCal given their dismal economy following their housing bubble, aerospace industry losses and military base closures. Since 2000, population growth rates have been somewhat slower yet Oregon still outpaces the nation.

PopGrowthJust as important is the fact that new home construction follows population growth (and household formation). Much of Oregon’s housing stock was built in the 1970s and 1990s, when we saw lots of population growth. The concern today, as our office first laid out back in 2011, is whether or not housing will keep up with population growth. To the extent that it does not, prices will rise and affordability will erode. Today, this issue is most pressing in Bend and Portland. For more, see our previous work on the Portland housing market. HousingBuiltThe Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland were kind enough to ask me to speak again this year. I will have some more (and new!) material in the near future regarding housing.


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