The Ins and Outs of Population Change in Eastern Oregon – 2017

by Christopher Rich

May 31, 2018

There are two components of population change; natural increase and net migration. Natural increase is the number of births in an area minus the number of deaths. Net migration is the number of people who moved into an area minus the number of people who moved out. Eastern Oregon’s natural increase of 4,239 people combined with net migration of 3,484 to increase the region’s population by 4.2 percent from 2010 to 2017. This rate of growth was roughly half Oregon’s overall rate of growth. The components of change varied among Eastern Oregon counties. This resulted in notable differences in how the population shifted around the region.

Grant County saw the smallest overall population change for the period (-0.4%). Grant and Harney were the only counties in the state to experience a decrease in population since 2010. Morrow County saw the largest population change in the region, growing 6.4 percent. Umatilla County added the most people, growing by 4,611 for a gain of 6.1 percent.
In Baker, Grant, Harney, and Wallowa counties, deaths outpaced births from 2010 to 2017. The largest difference between births and deaths came in Wallowa County with 1.4 deaths for every birth that occurred. Harney County had the smallest difference with 1.1 deaths per birth. Deaths outpaced births primarily due to the large and growing share of residents 65 years or older and the small share of 18 to 34 year olds in each of the four counties. Residents 65 years or older represented 17.2 percent of the state’s population in 2017. This age group represented a larger share of the population in Baker (26.7%), Grant (32.2%), Harney (24.2%) and Wallowa (29.5%). The 18 to 34 age group accounted for 22.2 percent of the state’s population in 2017. This age group accounted for a smaller share of the population in Baker (14.5%), Grant (12.8%), Harney (16.2%), and Wallowa (12.6%).

In Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, and Union counties, births outpaced deaths from 2010 to 2017. The largest difference between births and deaths came in Morrow County with 2.1 births for every death that occurred. Union County had the smallest difference with 1.2 births per death. Births outpaced deaths primarily due to the large share of 18 to 34 year olds, as well as the small share of residents 65 years or older in each of the four counties. In 2017, the 18 to 34 age group was more in line with the state average in Malheur (21.7%), Morrow (19.2%), Umatilla (21.9%), and Union (20.3%). The 65 or older age group was also more in line with the state average. Morrow and Umatilla were below the state at 16.2 percent and 15.1 percent for the age group. Malheur was slightly above the state average at 17.7 percent. Union was furthest removed from the state average among the four counties. Union’s 65 or older group accounted for 20.8 percent of the county’s population in 2017.

Only two counties in Eastern Oregon experienced negative net migration from 2010 to 2017. Malheur County saw 399 more people choose to move out of, rather than into the county. Harney County saw 27 more people choose to exit rather than enter. For Harney County, negative net migration combined with negative natural increase for an overall population loss of 62 people since 2010. For Malheur County, positive natural increase outweighed negative net migration for an overall population gain of 532 people.
 

 


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