Columbia Basin 2020 Population Growth Below Oregon Trend

by Dallas Fridley

February 24, 2021

Portland State University’s Population Research Center recently released their preliminary population estimates for Oregon, its counties and incorporated cities. These data are still preliminary and subject to public comment and review for about one month. Historically, there have not been large changes between the preliminary and final published figures. Newly released numbers show the Columbia Basin gained 480 new residents over July 1, 2019 to July 1, 2020, with population in the two-county region rising to 94,320, a one-year increase of 0.5%.

Oregon’s population grew by 31,655 residents in 2020 to total 4,268,055, an increase of 0.7%. Since July 1, 2010, Oregon’s population rose by 430,755 residents, an increase of 11.2% over the decade or 1.1% annually.
The Columbia Basin rose by 7,145 residents over the decade, an increase of 8.2% or about 0.8% annually. The Columbia Basin entered the decade on a moderate growth trend, rising by 1,245 residents from 2011 to 2012, producing a two-year increase of 1.4%. The Columbia Basin grew by 4.5% or 0.9% annually over 2013 to 2017, adding 3,970 residents, but fell short of Oregon’s 6.6% increase. The Columbia Basin’s best year arrived in 2019, with a population increase of 1.3% or 1,190 residents. But slow growth in 2018 and 2020 resulted in a three-year increase of 2.1% over 2018 to 2020, well below Oregon’s 3.1%.

Counties, Cities, and Towns

Morrow County led the Columbia Basin over the decade, rising by 1,650 residents to reach 12,825, an increase of 14.8%, well above Oregon’s 11.2%. The City of Boardman led Morrow County’s incorporated areas, rising by 42% or 1,360 residents over 2011 to 2020 to total 4,580. Boardman captured 82% of Morrow County’s total population gain over the decade. The City of Irrigon rose by 215 to total 2,040, an increase of 11.8%. Unincorporated areas grew by a scant 45 residents or 1.1% over 2011 to 2020. About one-third of Morrow County’s residents or 4,315 lived in an unincorporated area in 2020.
Umatilla County’s population rose by 5,495 residents over 2011 to 2020, an increase of 7.2%. Hermiston, Umatilla County’s largest city, led its growth, rising by 1,980 residents or 11.8% over the decade to total 18,775. Hermiston absorbed about 36% of the county’s population growth over the decade. The City of Umatilla rose by 700 residents over the decade or 10.1% to total 7,605 in 2020. The City of Pendleton grew by 420 residents (+2.5%) to total 17,025. Unincorporated areas welcomed 1,830 new residents over the decade, an increase of 8.4%. Unincorporated areas provided a home for about 29% of the county’s residents in 2020.

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