The Portland metropolitan region added 40,621 new residents from 2014 to 2015, a growth rate of 1.72 percent, according to updated estimates released today by the US Census Bureau.
New Population Estimates
7-county Portland metropolitan area
includes Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington and Yamhill counties, Oregon and Clark and Skamania counties, Washington
2015 population: 2,389,228
New residents, 2014-15: 40,621
Domestic migrants (moved from elsewhere in US): 21,479
International migrants: 6,423
Natural increase (births minus deaths): 11,405
Growth rate since 2014: 1.72%
Growth rate since 2010: 7.02%
2015 population: 790,294
New residents: 12,414
Domestic migrants: 5,273
International migrants: 3,050
Natural increase: 3,945
Growth rate since 2014: 1.59%
Growth rate since 2010: 7.18%
2015 population: 571,326
New residents: 11,053
Domestic migrants: 4,507
International migrants: 2,182
Natural increase: 3,996
Growth rate since 2014: 1.96%
Growth rate since 2010: 7.46%
2015 population: 401,515
New residents: 7,011
Domestic migrants: 5,301
International migrants: 383
Natural increase: 934
Growth rate since 2014: 1.77%
Growth rate since 2010: 6.53%
Clark County, Wash.
2015 population: 459,495
New residents: 9,054
Domestic migrants: 5,821
International migrants: 668
Natural increase: 2,185
Growth rate since 2014: 2.01%
Growth rate since 2010: 7.66%
Source: US Census Bureau estimates for July 1, 2015, released March 24, 2016.
That's like two full TriMet buses every day for a year -- enough to rank the region number 19 on the list of US metro areas with the greatest number of new residents.
The new estimates show the 7-county greater Portland region just shy of the 2.4 million population mark, with 2,389,228 residents as of July 1, 2015.
As with the year before, more than two-thirds of the region's growth came from people moving here.
More than half the region's new residents – about 21,000 people – moved here from other parts of the country, the 13th largest domestic migration number among US metro areas. Another 6,400 people moved from abroad to the region, a small number relative to other metro areas but the region's greatest increase this decade.
Metro planning director Elissa Gertler said continued growth shows both strengths and the need for strategies to absorb it.
"This continued growth demonstrates that our region is a desirable place to live and a competitive place to work," Gertler said via email. "And to keep it that way we will have to address the effects of growth on things like the cost of housing and our ability to get around.
"But thanks to a long history of planning together for where and how we want to grow, we are able to absorb change and growth better than many other places," she added.
The dominant role of migration in the region's growth is a sign of a strong economy, said Risa Proehl, population estimates program manager at Portland State University's Population Research Center.
"Net in-migration (movers in minus movers out) has accounted for an increasing share of population growth in the region in recent years and as the local economy has recovered from the Great Recession," Proehl said via email. "Net in-migration in the Portland Metropolitan Area, as well as in the state, accelerates as the economy improves."
Proehl noted that the region is now experiencing growth rates comparable to the early 2000s boom, before the Great Recession.
The great majority of the region's residents live in the core four counties of the region – Multnomah, Washington, Clark and Clackamas. Those counties absorbed more than 97 percent of the 7-county region's growth.
Among the key findings:
- The Portland region jumped one spot to rank 23rd among the country's largest metro areas, surpassing Pittsburgh.
- Clark County, Washington, grew the fastest of the region's counties, hitting a 2.01 percent growth rate with 9,054 new residents. That gave it the 82nd fastest growth rate among the 492 US counties with a population over 100,000.
- Multnomah County added the most new residents. 12,414 more people called the county home in 2015, an increase of 1.59 percent.
- Washington County was close behind, with 11,053 new residents, a sizable increase of 1.96 percent, or the 89th-fastest-growing US county with a population over 100,000.
- All four of the region's core counties have now cracked 400,000 residents. Clackamas County joined the club this year, growing at a rate of 1.77 percent over 2014, or 7,011 people, to 401,515 residents.
- The region is adding more and more people each year. The 40,621 new residents last year represent a 19 percent increase over 2013-2014, when the region added 34,125 residents.
- If we think growth is fast here, look north and east for even bigger numbers.
- The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue region added nearly 61,000 new residents from 2014 to 2015, claiming the number 9 spot among the country's metros with the biggest population jumps.
- The Bend-Redmond metro area in central Oregon ranked number 8 among the fastest-growing metro areas nationally, with a growth rate of 2.9 percent, finding itself on a list dominated by metros from Texas, Florida and the Carolinas.
Proehl advised some caution in interpreting the estimates, however, noting that her own organization's regional population estimates do differ – though they show similar trends.
"Both sets of estimates should be considered together with the understanding that they are estimates and not actual population counts," she said.
The 7-county region represents a much larger area than Portland's regional urban growth boundary, which includes the urban parts of Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. These estimates are not broken down to that level.
Last year, the Metro Council opted not to expand the urban growth boundary to accommodate about 400,000 new residents expected by 2035, citing available residential land already inside the boundary as well as demographic and economic trends driving more new residents toward living in apartments and condos. The council will next look at the boundary in 2018.