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Hispanics Drive Oregon's Increasing Diversity

Published Mar-25-2013

Although Oregon's population growth has slowed in recent years, its racial and ethnic composition continues to change. Over the past decade, the state's diversity has grown: in 2011 about one out of every five Oregonians belonged to a minority group, compared with one in six back in 2001. Most of this change is due to growth in Oregon's Hispanic population.

Hispanic Population Growth Outpaces that of Non-Hispanics
The Hispanic population has seen rapid growth in recent years. From 2001 to 2008 this ethnic group grew nearly 5 percent, on average, each year. Since the recession hit, that rate has averaged closer to 3 percent. Despite the drop, the Hispanic population has still grown at far faster rates than the non-Hispanic population, which averaged closer to 1 percent between 2001 and 2011.

Over the past 10 years, the number of Hispanics has increased roughly 8 times faster than the number of non-Hispanics. The Hispanic population grew 57.4 percent over the decade, while the non-Hispanic population grew 7.4 percent.

Oregon's Minority Population
Oregon's non-white population is comprised of four main racial groups: American Indian/Alaska Native; Asian; Black; and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. Since the term "Hispanic" designates heritage or nationality, and Hispanics can be of any race, they are counted within these groups.

Single race minority groups have also grown at a good clip, and continue to increase faster than Oregon's white population. Of these four groups, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders have seen the fastest average growth between 2001 and 2011 (5.0%), followed by American Indian/Alaska Natives (3.3%); Asians (3.2%); and Blacks (2.4%). Asians make up the state's largest single minority group.

Individuals may also identify themselves as "Two or More Races." This category counts individuals that identify themselves as belonging to more than one group. This latter category has expanded pretty quickly over the last decade, with population growth averaging 64.5 percent.

Graph 1
Asians are Oregon's largest racial minority group