Posted by: Josh Lehner | September 26, 2019

Urban Oregon Household Income, 2018 Update

This morning the Census Bureau released the 2018 American Community Survey data. There is a ton to unpack here and even more once the microdata is released later this year. In the coming months our office will update and share some of this work.

As discussed earlier, at a statewide level incomes continue to rise and economic expansion is reaching all corners and populations. That said, we know disparities remain and not everywhere has shared equally in the growth, even as all regions have seen some growth. This post is a quick update on trends we are seeing across Oregon’s metro areas, or at least large enough areas for 1 year ACS estimates to be published. For rural income trends, we need to wait until December when the 5 year ACS estimates are released. Note that data can be noisy, particularly for smaller areas due to sample size concerns. Some of the year-to-year changes should be taken with a grain of salt, and the focus should be more on the big picture.

I’m going to start down in southern Oregon and work my way north along I-5 before heading over the mountains to check on Bend.

A few years ago we were beginning to worry about the lack of income growth in southern Oregon. Jobs were growing again and migration flows started to return, but there was hardly any wage or household income gains to speak of. Well, as expected, that has now fully turned around in the past couple of years. Incomes in Grants Pass, Medford, and Roseburg are at or near historic highs on an inflation-adjusted basis. With strong income gains last year, the poverty rate in both Jackson and Josephine dropped a full percentage point, while poverty held steady in Douglas as income growth stalled.

Traveling north to the Willamette Valley shows that income continues to grow throughout the state. Lane and Linn are experiencing healthy gains that are faster than inflation and nationwide figures. Corvallis continues to see tremendous income growth, which is something I’ll dig into further to see if we can pinpoint the underlying causes. And after a handful of really strong gains, household income in Salem has slowed and is effectively matching the rate of inflation in the past two years. When the underlying microdata is available, I will update our office’s look at migration to Salem and any potential housing crunch spillover impact coming from Portland, or elsewhere.

Further north, the Portland region continues to see income gains stronger than many other large metro areas. Growth has slowed just a hair the past couple of years and Portland did slip one ranking in terms of highest income among the 100 largest metros. Portland now ranks 17th highest as both Hartford and Ogden jumped ahead, but Portland also overtook Raleigh at the same time. Back in 2007, Portland ranked 32nd highest. In terms of overall growth from 2007 to 2018, Portland’s income gains rank 4th fastest in percentage terms. In the coming weeks I will have a full updated look at the Housing Trilemma which with help frame Portland and its growth in relation to the other large metros in the country.

Finally, let’s cross the mountains and check in on Bend where we know growth has been robust in recent years. We know job growth has been slowing, but household incomes did too with gains matching the rate of inflation last year. Now, the region still continues to outperform the other major housing bust areas from around the country, but this too is another area where I’ll dig into the underlying dynamics to see how the 2018 figures differ from recent years.

Bottom Line: All regions of Oregon are seeing gains. The state’s larger, urban areas are at or near historic highs for income on an inflation-adjusted basis and poverty continues to show improvements. The data can be noisy on a year-to-year basis, however our office will continue to dig into it further to hopefully shed light on recent changes, both good and bad. We will also explore the ACS further and examine housing-related issues, changes in educational attainment and the like. Stay tuned, new Census data is always fun!


  1. […] Source: Urban Oregon Household Income, 2018 Update | Oregon Office of Economic Analysis […]

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