In 2016, Metro developed a new population forecast series around it’s official baseline population forecast (adopted under the 2015 urban growth management decision). This new forecast product uses the adopted 2015 “middle-growth” population forecast as a control for projecting population by gender, race/ethnicity, and age. This is the first time Metro forecasts include data on race/ethnicity.
The Metro Charter makes the agency accountable for carrying out its primary responsibility of regional planning to preserve and enhance the quality of life and the environment. This planning requires an update to population and economic forecasts with sufficient technical detail to inform policy.
Traditionally, Metro has applied the population forecast in its state and federally mandated Regional Transportation Plan updates. Regional Transportation Plan updates happen every four years. Also, the population forecast is the basis for assessing whether the Metro urban growth boundary contains development capacity for a 20-year period. Since 1997, the forecast has been updated at least once every 5 years.
Growth is expected to slow
The 2016 forecast estimates that the seven-county Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro Metropolitan Statistical Area will reach 3.5 million people by 2060, up from an estimated 2.4 million in 2015.
By comparison, the Portland area grew by 1.1 million residents – from 1.3 million to 2.4 million – from 1980 to 2015.
The updated forecast projects slower growth than past forecasts. In the last five years, several factors altered the outlook for future regional growth. First, expected population growth in the region slowed during the Great Recession. The latest regional forecast accounts for the full impact of the recession. Second, the Census Bureau recently revised and lowered its birth rate projections; the regional population outlook reflects the new Census birth rates. Third, the Census Bureau lowered its immigration outlook for the U.S. and Metro incorporated those assumptions in its own forecastsi, although immigration is only a small part of overall migration in the region.
Forecasts now include race/ethnicity breakdowns
Many programs administered by Metro using federal grants require an environmental justice component to determine how public policy impacts people and communities of color. These assessments have been based only on existing conditions. Metro and its partners can be more alert to potential policy impacts going forward if policy makers become more aware about race and ethnicity change expectations in the future.
Hispanics/Latinos will lead growth in the region
The Hispanic/Latino population segment is expected to add another 665,000 people by 2060, the largest increase in a race or ethnic population. Whites will grow by another 285,000 followed by another 250,000 Asians.
Metro forecasts are peer reviewed
At different points of the forecast process, Metro convenes forecast experts and stakeholders to review our inputs and assess the reasonableness of our forecast outlooks.