Natural Population Growth Anchors the Columbia Basin, 2010-2015

Natural Population Growth Anchors the Columbia Basin, 2010-2015

by Dallas Fridley

May 6, 2016

Hood River, Deschutes, Washington, Multnomah, and Clackamas, were the fastest growing counties in Oregon from 2010 to 2015. Hood River County's 8.5 percent population gain led the state. Deschutes County, also known as the Bend-Redmond MSA, finished a close second, rising by 8.2 percent. Washington (+7.7%), Multnomah (+5.7%), and Clackamas counties (+5.7%) ranked third through fifth.

Oregon's population rose by 182,771 or 4.8 percent to 4,013,845 with net migration representing 65 percent of its total gain. For every 1,000 Oregon residents in 2010, the state welcomed 31.2 over the next five years, leading to a gain of 119,598 net migrants. Deschutes County's rate per 1,000 residents, at 69.4, was more than double the state's pace, while Morrow and Umatilla counties ranked near the bottom. Net migration from 2010 to 2015 provided a gain of just 30 residents for Morrow County, which ranked 34th at just 2.6 per 1,000. Net migration supported about 21 percent of Umatilla County's population gain from 2010 to 2015, an increase of 686 or 9.0 per 1,000, ranking 32nd.

It may come as a surprise that Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas counties didn't rank among Oregon's top five (net-migration per 1,000 residents). Hood River County finished a close second (60.1 per 1,000), Gilliam County ranked third (54.4 per 1,000), Wasco County fourth (47.8), and Curry County (46.9) landed in fifth position.

Although Morrow and Umatilla counties didn't rank among the top five in Oregon for population growth from 2010 to 2015, they still offered some impressive results that merit further analysis. Umatilla County rose by 4.3 percent from 2010 to 2015, an increase of 3,266 residents, to total 79,155. Umatilla County's 4.3 percent gain was good enough to rank 11th, behind Yamhill County's 4.5 percent but shy of Oregon's 4.8 percent increase. Morrow County landed in similar territory, rising by 4.1 percent or 457 residents from 2010 to 2015 to total 11,630. Ranking 13th, Morrow County finished just behind Polk County (4.2%).

Births minus deaths can produce a negative or positive rate of natural population increase, reflecting, in part, age demographics, and racial and ethnic diversity, along with family size. The highest rate of natural increase in Oregon was produced in Washington County, at 40.3 per 1,000 residents from 2010 to 2015. That rate compares with a much, much lower 16.5 per 1,000 for the state. Keep in mind that 14 of Oregon's 36 counties produced a negative rate of natural increase from 2010 to 2015.

Curry County landed at the bottom, with a natural population loss of 42.2 per 1,000 while Wheeler County ranked 35th, with a loss of 40 per 1,000. Wheeler County's death rate was Oregon's second highest, at 76.4 per 1,000 from 2010 to 2015, while its birth rate was the lowest, at just 36.4 per 1,000 residents. Curry County ranked first for its death rate, at 44.2 per 1,000, while its birth rate ranked 34th at 44.4 per 1,000 residents.

Morrow County's rate of natural increase ranked second behind Washington County, while Umatilla County finished third. Umatilla County actually produced the state's highest birth rate from 2010 to 2015, at 77.5 per 1,000, well above Oregon 62.3 per 1,000, while its death rate ranked 30th, at 43.5 per 1,000. Morrow County produced similar rates, with births ranking third, at 74.9 per 1,000, while its death rate ranked 34th or third from the bottom at 36.8 per 1,000.

As a region, the Columbia Basin welcomed 8.2 net migrants per 1,000 residents, well below Oregon's 31.2 per 1,000. Birth rates were much higher, with the Columbia Basin welcoming 87.1 per 1,000 compared with 62.3 for the state. And with a death rate of just 42.6 per 1,000, the Columbia Basin's rate of natural increase, at 34.5 per 1,000, was more than twice Oregon's 16.5.

With its rate of natural population growth leading the state, it would only take a small uptick in net migration to the Columbia Basin to lift Morrow and Umatilla counties into a top 10 or even a top five population growth ranking.