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Population Growth Faster Among Minority Groups
by Will Burchard
Published Mar-25-2014

Oregon's total population reached roughly 3.9 million in 2012, an increase of 11.0 percent (+386,000) since 2002. Among different race and ethnic groups, minority groups grew much faster than the statewide rate of 11.0 percent, and those reporting Hispanic ethnicity grew faster than non-Hispanics.

Hispanic Oregonians are a Larger Part of All Oregon Metro Areas
In 2012, 12.2 percent (474,157) of Oregonians were of Hispanic ethnicity, which was less than the 16.9 percent share nationwide. This was, however, an increase from the 8.5 percent figure for the 2002 Oregon population. Over the same period, the entire Oregon Hispanic population grew by 51.4 percent.

Oregonians of Hispanic ethnicity increased in population in all metro areas between 2002 and 2012. Only Salem had a greater percentage of Hispanics (22.7%) than the statewide 12.2 percent (Graph 1). Corvallis had the lowest percentage (6.7%) of Hispanics relative to all other Oregon metro areas. The Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro Metropolitan Statistical Area had a Hispanic population of about 220,500, which accounted for 46.5 percent of the statewide Hispanic population.

Data from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program distinguish between race and ethnicity. In studying population trends in Oregon and across the United States, it is important to know that the term Hispanic is in reference to ethnicity. Identifying as a certain ethnicity is separate from race identification. For example, one who identifies as an American Indian can be of Hispanic or non-Hispanic ethnicity.

Graph 1
Hispanic population as a percentage of metro area population 2002-2012
Population Grows Faster for Minority Groups
Race is broken into six major groups by the Census Bureau: white alone; black or African American alone; Asian alone; American Indian and Alaska Native alone; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander alone; and two or more races. Since white alone makes up the majority of the Oregon population, we refer to the other five categories as minority groups.

In 2012, minority groups made up about 12.0 percent of Oregon's total population by race, but between 2002 and 2012, these same groups accounted for about 34 percent of total population growth. The fastest growing groups in Oregon were similar to those in the United States as a whole, but the United States was led by the two or more races group with a growth rate of 67.5 percent. The Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander population grew by 39.4 percent across the nation, while Asian alone grew by 38.6 percent. For Oregon's leaders, see Table 1.

Each of the minority groups in Oregon grew at a faster rate than the Oregon statewide growth of 11.0 percent between 2002 and 2012. Only the white alone group grew at a slower rate (7.9%) than the Oregon average. Across all groups in Oregon, 96.5 percent of the population reported only one race. Those who reported more than one race grew 59.5 percent between 2002 and 2012, but only accounted for 3.5 percent of Oregon's population in 2012.

Population growth among race groups becomes more complex when considering ethnicity. For the Hispanic population, minority groups made up 13.3 percent of the population, while minority groups accounted for 11.4 percent of the non-Hispanic population. Compared with the Hispanic population's growth rate of 51.4 percent, the non-Hispanic population grew by just 7.0 percent between 2002 and 2012.

Each minority group of Hispanic ethnicity grew faster, and in most cases much faster, than its non-Hispanic counterpart (Table 2). For example, among the non-Hispanic population, those reporting race as American Indian and Alaska Native grew from about 41,100 to 43,700 (6.3%). Among the Hispanic population, the American Indian and Alaska Native group grew from about 9,600 to 25,300 (162.5%). Growth of the two or more races population was more than three times higher for Hispanics than for non-Hispanics.

Table 1
Oregon Population Growth by Major Race Group, 2002-2012
Major Race Group 2002 Population 2012 Population 10-Year Growth 2012 Percent of Population
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander           9,925       15,848 59.7% 0.4%
Two or More Races        85,349      136,142 59.5% 3.5%
Asian Alone      114,037      156,077 36.9% 4.0%
American Indian and Alaska Native Alone        50,737       68,955 35.9% 1.8%
Black or African American Alone        62,011       77,564 25.1% 2.0%
Oregon    3,513,424   3,899,353 11.0% 100.0%
White Alone    3,191,365   3,444,767 7.9% 88.3%
Source: Census Bureau Population Estimates
Table 2
10-Year Growth by Race and Ethnicity, Oregon, 2002-2012
Race     10-Year Growth,
Percent Change 10-Year Growth,
Percent Change
American Indian and Alaska Native Alone             2,588 6.3%    15,630 162.5%
Two or More Races             37,533 48.9%    13,260 153.9%
Asian Alone             39,578 35.4%      2,462 107.0%
Black or African American Alone           10,925 19.1%      4,628 94.1%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander             5,253 59.5%        670 61.4%
White Alone           129,127 4.4%  124,275 43.3%
Source: Census Bureau Population Estimates