PSU report: New residents continue to drive Oregon’s population growth
Author: Charles Rynerson, PSU Population Research Center
Posted: November 16, 2017

Oregon’s population increased by 64,750 between 2016 and 2017, largely because of new residents moving to the state, according to new preliminary 2017 estimates from Portland State University’s Population Research Center.  

The preliminary July 1 population estimates show that Oregon’s population increased from 4,076,350 in 2016 to 4,141,100 in 2017. This increase of 64,750 follows a similar gain of 62,505 between 2015 and 2016. Both represent a 1.6 percent year-over-year increase, resulting in the largest numeric growth over a two-year period since the early 1990s.

Population growth consists of two factors: natural increase (the number of births minus the number of deaths) and net migration (people moving in minus people moving out). From 2016 to 2017, net migration accounted for roughly 88 percent of Oregon’s population growth. 

Due to an aging population and declining birth rates, natural increase now contributes less to Oregon’s population growth than at any time since the 1930s. The number of births to Oregon residents from 2016 to 2017 was about 10 percent lower than its recent peak from 2007 to 2008. The number of deaths continues to climb due to the growth in older population.

Contrasting the slowdown in natural increase, net migration has accelerated, as the number of people moving to Oregon exceeded the number moving out by more than 50,000 for the second consecutive year. Over the past five years since 2012, net migration has resulted in more than 200,000 additional Oregon residents.

Oregon’s three most populous counties in the Portland metropolitan area experienced the largest gains in population from 2016 to 2017. Multnomah and Washington counties each added more than 12,000 residents, and Clackamas County added just over 8,000. The largest percentage growth occurred in the Central Oregon counties of Deschutes (3.6 percent) and Crook (2.4 percent).

The federal Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) designation applies to 13 of Oregon’s 36 counties. Together these 13 counties accounted for a population increase of 59,010, 91 percent of the state’s growth. Each of the 23 non-metropolitan counties also gained residents, amounting to a total of 5,740 persons.

Just over half of Oregon’s counties experienced natural decrease, meaning there were more deaths than births. These included eastern, southwestern and coastal counties. However, net in-migration (more people moving in than out) offset these decreases. Net in-migration is estimated to have accelerated in most counties statewide over the past several years as the state recovered from the recession.

Among incorporated cities and towns:
•Portland continued to add more residents than other cities in Oregon. Its 2017 population of 639,100 includes growth of 11,705 (1.8 percent) since 2016.
•Bend had the second biggest population gain among Oregon cities, adding 3,265 residents (3.8 percent) to reach a population of 86,765 in 2017.
•Other Oregon cities adding more than 1,000 residents each were Gresham, Hillsboro, Salem, Eugene, Happy Valley, Tigard, Roseburg and Medford. Most of Roseburg’s growth was due to recently annexed population.

PSU’s Population Research Center produces annual population estimates for Oregon and its counties and incorporated cities using the most recent available data. These estimates are based on fluctuations in the numbers of housing units, persons residing in group quarter facilities, births and deaths, students enrolled in public school, persons employed, Medicare enrollees, State and Federal tax exemptions, Oregon driver license holders as well as counts in other administrative data that are symptomatic of population change.

The preliminary population estimates are subject to revision during a month review period. The final July 1 population estimates will be certified by Dec. 15. The annual population estimates are revised quarterly to account for annexations throughout the year.

The preliminary population estimates can be found on PRC’s website by visiting

Contact Charles Rynerson at