Posted by: Josh Lehner | November 19, 2015

Oregon County Population 2015

The 2015 population estimates for Oregon were just released by Portland State University and we have now surpassed 4 million residents. 4,013,845 to be exact. PSU’s Population Research Center has created a really cool new site to show how we got here, with data going back to the 1800s. They detail some race/ethnicity, age, gender, place of birth and the like. Do check it out for yourself.

Population growth — and migration in particular — is one of the two fundamental reasons Oregon’s economy outperforms the typical state over the business cycle. (The other being our industrial structure.) With population growth continuing to accelerate, it bodes well for the near term economy as these new Oregonians increase demand for housing, consumer services and the like. It does take some time for the labor market to absorb the working age migrants into employment, however eventually it does. For example, the state today is about a year away from the number of jobs catching back up with population growth, relative to the onset of the Great Recession.

Given population growth is so important for both Oregon and the regional economies within the state, the graph below shows county level population change over the past decade. The light blue line is the statewide growth rates, which acts as a benchmark to compare a given county to statewide trends. Central Oregon (Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson) is special and they get their own graph at the very end.

Warning: this is a lot of charts, but the trellis graph is a neat way to show relative patterns and comparisons across myriad measures all at once.


As I said, Central Oregon is special in that their growth rates are literally off the charts in the past 15-20 years. Their boom-bust-boom pattern is something else. Notice the y axis below is substantially different from all other counties. See here for an update on the regional economy which has returned to full-throttle, booming growth.


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