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The Oregonian: Portland area still a destination for young and educated, but not for black population
Author: Andrew Theen, The Oregonian
Posted: March 8, 2017

Read the original story on OregonLive.

The Portland area continues to be one of the top destinations for young and college-educated people, but researchers at Portland State University found that the increasingly diverse cohort of newcomers may be arriving as the region's black population is dwindling.

That's one takeaway from a report released Tuesday by PSU's America on the Move project. The population researchers took a closer look at U.S. Census figures from the 2012-14 American Community Survey of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the country and compared the post-recession period with 2008-10 totals.

After the Great Recession, Portland saw about 300 people move to the region daily, and 234 pack up and leave. That's a net influx of 66 people a day. That group turned out to be significantly more diverse than the city's current demographics: 62 percent white versus more than 75 percent.

But Portland's increasingly diverse newcomers largely didn't include blacks, and occurred as researchers said the metro area's black population may have declined by nearly 800 residents, to an estimated 65,778 (margin of error of plus or minus 3,022).

Researchers were careful to say the data represent a small sample size and a potentially large margin of error.

"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," Jason Jurjevich, assistant director of PSU's Population Research Center, said in a statement. "But evidence suggesting that African Americans are opting for other large metros merits a closer look."Jurjevich's team compared Portland with other similarly sized cities like Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Austin and Seattle. Those cities saw a net increase in black residents.

PSU's population research group will release a second report later this month which will include more data from migrants, including interviews explaining their rationale for coming or leaving the area.

Though a drop of some 783 black metro residents appears alarming, the sample size is still small and includes a large margin of error: plus or minus 1,700.

"Despite the considerable degree of statistical uncertainty, however, the data underscore the very real possibility that more African-Americans are leaving the Portland metro than moving to the region," the researchers wrote.

The Oregonian/OregonLive has documented the wave of gentrification in Portland that pushed black residents from inner North and Northeast neighborhoods farther east, but PSU's preliminary report indicates that narrative may no longer be the only story. Some of those former inner city residents may have left the metro area altogether.

More than 2.4 million people live in the seven-county metro area. As of 2013, whites represented 75 percent of the metro area population. Blacks represented 2.8 percent of the population, trailing Latinos at 11 percent and Asians at roughly 5.8 percent.

But Portland remained a draw for college-educated people age 25 to 39. Portland saw an average annual net population gain of 8,236 people from that cohort, which was the sixth highest among the top 50 metro areas.

The region also saw an increase in the proportion of new residents who are immigrants. During that two-year period, 22 percent of new residents weren't born in the United States, up from 14 percent in 2008-10. 

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

The city also saw more newcomers in the 25 to 39 range who did not have a college degree. From 2012 to 2014, the region saw a net of 5,453 non-educated residents from that age group, more than double the pre-recession total.

-- Andrew Theen
atheen@oregonian.com
503-294-4026
@andrewtheen