Redmond, Oregon: A Bedroom Community?

by Kale Donnelly

March 8, 2019

A common theme witnessed in large cities is an influx of labor during the working hours, which is later followed by an exodus of that very same labor at the end of the day. This regular occurrence is merely called commuting. The Manhattan Population Explorer offers a fantastic data visualization to show just how drastically one of the busiest city’s population density can change throughout the hours of the day.

For a variety of reasons, not all workers live within the area they’re employed in. The most commonly cited reason, especially when concerning city centers and large metro areas, is housing affordability. Living within city centers is typically more expensive, so it’s not uncommon to see workers live in neighboring communities in an attempt to escape higher housing costs. The communities outside of the main city hub where these commuters return to at the end of the work day are often referred to as “bedroom communities.”

Is it fair to label Redmond as a bedroom community? As the neighboring city to Bend, Oregon’s largest city east of the Cascades, it’s not uncommon to see a large number of cars making the morning commute on Highway 97 to Bend. But what about the commuting patterns on the northbound side of the highway leading back to Redmond?

With the latest commuter data available from the Census Bureau from 2015, the number of commuters and workers is a bit dated. However, we can assume that there wasn’t a significant change in the percentages of commuters over two years, hold those percentages constant over time, and apply those percentages to Redmond’s 2017 employment levels. This yields a number of roughly 4,000 Redmond residents traveling to Bend to work on any given work day in 2017. On the other hand, about half as many Bend residents were commuting in the opposite direction to work in Redmond. Also, the two cities aren’t the only communities simultaneously exchanging labor with each other. In fact, Bend residents only account for about 16 percent of workers in Redmond. When taking into account Redmond’s other neighboring towns of Prineville, Terrebonne, Madras, and many others, the number of workers commuting into Redmond increases dramatically, accounting for a little over 51 percent of Redmond’s workers. That leaves roughly one-third of the workers in Redmond actually living in Redmond.

When considering the inflow/outflow characteristics of workers, we see that Redmond is actually a net importer of labor. In other words, more workers commute into Redmond than those who commute outside of the city to work elsewhere.
So, Redmond isn’t necessarily a bedroom community, at least not in the conventional sense. What most would consider a bedroom community is one that exhibits more of a one-way relationship with a larger neighboring city, i.e. far more people leaving the local community to go work in the larger city, and far less people commuting into the community to work (if any at all). While it could be argued that Redmond is slightly a bedroom community for Bend (and Bend only), it still doesn’t quite stack up to the definition since a great deal of Bend residents commute to Redmond, as well. A healthy sharing of the labor pool occurs between both communities. With Redmond seeing a net positive job flow from other town residents commuting in, even commuters from the larger nearby city of Bend, Redmond is far more than a bedroom community.

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