New residents help boost Oregon’s population by more than 62,000
Author: Risa Proehl, Population Research Center
Posted: November 16, 2016

Oregon’s population increased by 62,505 largely because of new residents moving to the state, according to new preliminary 2016 estimates from Portland State University’s Population Research Center.

The preliminary July 1 population estimates show that Oregon’s population increased from 4,013,845 in 2015 to 4,076,350 in 2016, or by 62,505. This increase represents a 1.6 percent change, slightly higher than the previous year’s change of 1.3 percent. The population increase in 2016 is over 11,000 higher than growth between 2014 to 2015, surpassing the peak pre-recession growth of 58,000 between 2005 to 2006. The 2016 increase is closer to growth experienced in the early and mid-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 2015 to 2016, net migration accounted for roughly 83 percent of Oregon’s population growth. During the past several years, natural increase has been contributing a shrinking share of population increase. Because of a declining fertility rate, the number of annual births has increased only slightly in recent years; and the number of annual deaths will continue to climb due to the wave of aging baby boomers.

The counties that experienced the largest gains in population from 2015 to 2016 have the largest populations. As in the previous many years, Multnomah and Washington counties added the highest number of persons -- around 13,000 residents each. Both Clackamas and Deschutes counties added over 5,000 to their populations; Marion and Lane counties each added around 4,000 to their populations; and Jackson County added over almost 3,000. Collectively, these seven counties accounted for over 80 percent of the statewide population growth this year.

Linn, Yamhill, Benton and Polk counties each added at least 1,000 to their counts. Almost half of Oregon’s 36 counties experienced increases ranging over 100 to 955 persons. Seven counties saw a less than a 100 person change in their populations. Grant County experienced a slight population loss due to the fire that destroyed homes in summer of 2015 and from natural decrease.

Generally, net in-migration has either boosted population growth around the state or has prevented population losses. In counties where a natural decrease is occurring -- over a third of the counties experience a natural decrease, meaning there are more deaths than births -- net in-migration (people moving in) has offset overall population decreases. Net in-migration this past year is estimated to have accelerated in most counties statewide from last year.

In terms of growth rates, six counties saw increases at higher rates than the state rate of 1.6 percent. Deschutes County experienced the largest percentage gain of 3.5 percent followed by Crook (2.3), Washington (2.3), Hood River (2.0), Clackamas (1.9) and Multnomah (1.7) counties. Thirty-seven of Oregon’s 242 cities experienced population growth in the past year at rates higher than the state. For smaller cities, sharp spikes in the growth rate could mean the increase of just a few people.

Other highlights include:

  • Oregon’s incorporated cities have gained 39,460 people from 2015 to 2016, with a combined 2016 total population of 2,816,400.
  • The preliminary estimates reveal at least small population increases in more than half of Oregon’s 242 incorporated cities from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015, with 35 cities adding more than 100 persons.
  • Thirty-nine cities and towns are estimated to have a population change of between 100 and 900 during the period, led by Albany and Wilsonville.
  • Four cities, scattered throughout Oregon are estimated to have between 5 and 35 fewer persons in 2016 than in 2015.

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