A Quick Look at Population Trends in Eastern Oregon

by Christopher Rich

December 20, 2018

Recently released estimates from Portland State University (PSU) show the population increased in Eastern Oregon, as well as Oregon, from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018. This is in line with the long-term trend of a growing population in both the state and the region overall. PSU’s Population Research Center does extensive work to create annual population estimates for the state, counties, and incorporated cities. Broad level data is prepared as of July 1 each year. The data is reviewed in November, certified, and then released in December. Detailed data focused on age demographics and the components of population change is released the following spring.

The population increased over the year in four of Eastern Oregon’s eight counties. Baker, Harney, Malheur, and Umatilla saw growth. Grant, Morrow, Union, and Wallowa saw the scale tip the opposite direction. Growth was 0.2 percent for the region overall, which represents a slowdown from the previous over-the-year growth rate of 0.7 percent. Eastern Oregon’s over-the-year rate was far less than the state’s growth rate of 1.3 percent. The five-year trend (2013 to 2018) for growth was 2.7 percent in Eastern Oregon. This also represents a slowdown from the previous five-year trend (2012 to 2017) of 3.2 percent. The state’s five-year-trend (7.0%) represents an increase of 0.4 percentage point over Oregon’s previous five-year trend.

Baker County had the least growth for the year among the region’s gainers. The county added just 15 residents; a slowdown from the previous year when Baker added 240 residents. Umatilla County added less than half as many residents as the county did the previous year. However, Umatilla still welcomed 265 new residents over the year and accounted for 70 percent of the region’s population growth. Malheur County accounted for 21 percent of Eastern Oregon’s population growth over the year. The county added 80 new residents, which was down from the previous year’s gain of 140.

Grant County’s five-year trend held steady with a loss of 35 residents. The county lost 15 residents over the year. Morrow, Union, and Wallowa took a slight step back in population with a loss of five, 15, and 20 residents, respectively, from 2017 to 2018. The three counties’ over-the-year losses are in contrast to recent trends. Each of the counties added quite a few residents over the five-year period. Over-the-year population growth for the three counties was also among the strongest in the region from 2016 to 2017.  

Long-term trends paint a clearer picture for Eastern Oregon. The region added 9,905 residents since 2007 (+5.5%) and 12,981 residents since 2000 (+7.3%). Growth since 2007 was driven by Umatilla and Union counties. Growth since 2000 was driven by Umatilla, Union, and Morrow counties. Morrow saw a relatively large decline from 2007 to 2018 as did Grant and Harney. Grant and Harney also saw relatively large population losses since 2000. I’ll release a more detailed analysis that includes age demographics, birth and death rates, and net migration when the data becomes available in the spring.


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