Components of Population Change from 2010 to 2016: Gilliam, Sherman, and Wheeler Counties

by Dallas Fridley

May 31, 2017

Portland State University’s Population Research Center recently released its 2016 annual Oregon population report tables, which detail components of population change: net migration; births; deaths; and natural increase ( In the Columbia Gorge, Hood River County’s 10.7 percent gain led the region from 2010 to 2016, ranking second in the state, while Deschutes County’s 12.0 percent led the state. Gilliam County’s 5.8 percent population increase ranked 10th from 2010 to 2016, just behind Wasco County’s 5.9 percent (ranking eighth). Sherman County’s 1.7 percent population gain from 2010 to 2016 ranked near the bottom, in 28th position, where it was joined by Wheeler County at 29th.

Net migration provided the underlying strength Oregon relied upon to produce a population gain of 6.4 percent from 2010 to 2016. Oregon’s population rose by 245,276 with just over 70 percent of its growth attributed to net migration. From 2010 to 2016 Oregon gained about 45 net migrants per 1,000 residents (2010) to reach 4,076,350.
Gilliam County experienced a high rate of net migration from 2010 to 2016, at 61.5 per 1,000, good enough to crack Oregon’s top five, just ahead of sixth place Wasco County’s 61.0 per 1,000. Deschutes County led net migration in Oregon from 2010 to 2016 with a rate of 104.7 per 1,000. Net migration represented all of Gilliam County’s net population growth as its rate of natural increase from 2010 to 2016 was actually negative. Gilliam County’s birth rate, at 62.0 births per 1,000 residents, ranked in 25th position from 2010 to 2016 while its death rate was slightly higher, at 65.2 per 1,000. Oregon maintained a higher birth rate from 2010 to 2016, at 74.2 per 1,000 and a lower death rate, at 55.0 per 1,000.

Low net migration held back Sherman County, with a rate of 17.3 per 1,000 from 2010 to 2016 earning 30th place out of 36 counties. Sherman County’s birth rate, at 60.1 per 1,000, was similar to Gilliam County’s, ranking 28th, while its death rate ranked 22nd at 60.4 per 1,000. The net result for Sherman County was a natural increase of -0.3 per 1,000, ranking 21st, one position ahead of Wasco County.

Net migration to Wheeler County highlighted its population growth trend from 2010 to 2016, ranking in seventh position with a rate of 55.0 per 1,000. But Wheeler County’s rate of natural increase (births minus deaths) ranked 35th or second from the bottom in Oregon from 2010 to 2016, at -38.4 per 1,000. Wheeler County’s birth rate ranked as the lowest in Oregon, while its death rate landed in the top five at 83.5 per 1,000.
Washington County led Oregon from 2010 to 2016 with a natural increase of 47.3 per 1,000. Among Oregon’s 36 counties, 16 produced a negative rate of natural increase from 2010 to 2016, with Curry County’s -53.0 per 1,000 ranking 36th.

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