A Quick Look at Population Trends in Eastern Oregon

by Christopher Rich

January 19, 2018

Recently released estimates from Portland State University (PSU) show the population increased in Eastern Oregon, as well as Oregon, from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017. 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, the counties, and the 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 grew over the year in each of Eastern Oregon’s eight counties (Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa). Growth was 0.7 percent for the region, which was slightly less than half of the state’s growth rate of 1.6 percent. The five-year trend (2012 to 2017) shows growth of 3.2 percent in Eastern Oregon. This was slightly less than half of the state’s growth rate (6.6%) for the period as well.
Baker County showed the largest over-the-year growth by percentage, increasing 1.5 percent (240 people). Umatilla added 620 people since 2016, which was the largest gain by volume. The county accounted for 42 percent of the region’s population in 2017, 2016, and 2012. Wallowa County, with only 3.8 percent of Eastern Oregon’s population, matched Umatilla’s over-the-year growth rate of 0.8 percent. This translates to a gain of 55 people for Wallowa.

Grant was the only Eastern Oregon County that did not record a population increase with the five-year trend. The county dipped slightly for the period, losing 35 people. Morrow had the largest percentage gain over the last five years, growing by 5.2 percent (590 people). Umatilla once again put up the most growth by volume adding 3,380 people since 2012.

Eastern Oregon has seen a long-term trend of population growth, adding 12,656 people since 2000 (growth of 7.1%). This growth is driven primarily by Umatilla, Union, and Morrow counties. Grant, Harney, and Wallowa have seen a loss of population since 2000 while the other five counties have seen growth. However, the recent trend shows population growth in all eight Eastern Oregon counties. I’ll release a more detailed analysis of just what this growth looks like when the data becomes available in the spring.


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