Portland draws more diverse migrants, but loses African Americans, PSU study shows
Author: Suzanne Pardington, University Communications
Posted: March 7, 2017

Portland’s newest residents are more diverse than the region as a whole, except when it comes to African Americans, according to a new study from Portland State University.

PSU College of Urban and Public Affairs researchers Jason Jurjevich, Greg Schrock and Jihye Kang found 38 percent of all Portland migrants from 2012-2014 were people of color, compared to 25 percent of the metro’s overall population. But the diversity boost came mostly from Asian, Pacific Islander and Hispanic migrants. The Portland area lost a net of 800 African American residents in that time period, while other large metro areas recorded net gains in African American migrants.   

“At this point we can only speculate on the reasons African Americans seem to be leaving the Portland area, such as the gentrification of North and Northeast Portland,” said Jurjevich, assistant director of PSU’s Population Research Center. “But evidence suggesting that African Americans are opting for other large metros merits a closer look; in the coming weeks we will release survey and interview data from Portland migrants to help contextualize migration trends.” 

Portland is also drawing more immigrants from other countries who are young and college educated, the study shows. Between 2012-14, nearly one in four young people with college degrees who moved to Portland were immigrants, an increase from one in seven in 2008 to 2010. 

“The data show that Portland continues to be a magnet for talented young professionals from around the world,” Jurjevich said.

The study is part of PSU’s America on the Move project, which tracks migration trends across the largest U.S. metro areas. 

Other findings include:

  • Every day in 2012-2014, about 300 people moved to Portland and 234 moved out, a net of 66 migrants each day.
  • Portland continued to attract young, college-educated migrants, ranking 6th among the 50 largest U.S. cities.
  • Domestic migrants to Portland came primarily from other parts of Oregon (26 percent), California (18 percent), Washington (13 percent) Arizona (6 percent) and Texas (3 percent).  

The next America on the Move report will explore how individuals decide to move to Portland, why they stay and how the region’s growth challenges might introduce costs that disproportionately burden people of color and young people of lower socioeconomic status. 

This report compares the Portland metropolitan region against 49 other metro regions that, together, comprise the 50 largest metropolitan areas. The report relies on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Public Use Microdata Sample for the decennial population Census and the American Community Survey, accessed through the Minnesota Population Center’s Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. 

About America on the Move

The America on the Move project contains both qualitative and quantitative data that aims to better understand how human migration is changing the face of cities across the U.S. In 2012, Professors Jurjevich and Schrock began examining migration patterns of young, college-educated individuals to the nation’s largest 50 U.S. metros, from 1980 to today. By incorporating and accounting for changes in census geography for the nation’s largest metro areas, America on the Move research provides one-of-a-kind longitudinal analysis of regional migration patterns in the United States.