The Ins and Outs of Population Change in Eastern Oregon – 2018

by Christopher Rich

July 1, 2019

Eastern Oregon’s population increased by 8,048 people from 2010 to 2018. Natural increase (+4,508) combined with net migration (+3,540) to push the total number of residents to 190,180. The region’s population growth rate (4.4%) was less than half the state’s overall growth rate (9.5%) for the period. While natural increase (births minus deaths) and net migration (in-migrants minus out-migrants) were both positive for the region, the two components varied among individual counties, creating notable differences in population shifts over time.
Grant and Harney counties each saw a 0.6 percent decrease in population from 2010 to 2018. The two counties were the only counties in the state to experience a loss in population for the eight-year period. Malheur County saw the slowest growth in Eastern Oregon, gaining 2.0 percent. Morrow and Umatilla counties saw the fastest growth, each gaining 6.4 percent. Umatilla County added the most people, growing by 4,876. Umatilla, which represents 42.4 percent of Eastern Oregon’s population accounted for 60.0 percent of the region’s population growth.

In Baker, Grant, Harney, and Wallowa counties, deaths outpaced births from 2010 to 2018. The largest difference between births and deaths came in Grant and Wallowa with 1.4 deaths for every birth that occurred. Harney 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 17.6 percent of the state’s population in 2018. This age group represented a much larger share of the population in Baker (27.0%), Grant (32.9%), Harney (24.6%) and Wallowa (29.8%). The 18 to 34 age group accounted for 22.6 percent of the state’s population in 2018. This age group accounted for a much smaller share of the population in Baker (15.0%), Grant (13.1%), Harney (16.6%), and Wallowa (13.0%).

In Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, and Union counties, births outpaced deaths from 2010 to 2018. 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 1.1 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 2018, the 18 to 34 age group was more in line with the state average in Malheur (21.9%), Morrow (19.8%), Umatilla (22.4%), and Union (20.1%). The 65 or older age group was also more in line with the state average. Morrow and Umatilla were below the state at 16.5 percent and 15.2 percent, respectively, for the age group. Malheur was slightly above the state average at 17.8 percent. Union was furthest removed from the state average among the four counties. Union’s 65 or older group accounted for 21.2 percent of the county’s population in 2018.

Only two counties in the state experienced negative net migration from 2010 to 2018. Malheur County saw 393 more people choose to move out of, rather than into, the county. Harney County saw six 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 42 people since 2010. For Malheur County, positive natural increase outweighed negative net migration for an overall population gain of 612 people.


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