Portland Demographics

Portland, the whitest major city in the country, has become whiter at its core even as surrounding areas have grown more diverse according to figures from the 2010 census.  The Oregonian did an analysis of the shifts in Portland’s population on May 1, 2011, in an article entitled, “In Portland’s heart, 2010 Census shows diversity dwindling.” Below are some of the findings.

Of 354 census tracts in Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties, 40 became whiter from 2000 to 2010, according to The Oregonian‘s analysis of the 2010 Census. Of those, two lie in rural Clackamas County. The 38 others are in Portland.

The city core didn’t become whiter just because white residents moved in, the data show. Nearly 10,000 people of color, mostly African Americans, also moved out. Pushed out by gentrification, most settled on the city’s eastern edges, according to the census data, where the sidewalks, grocery stores and parks grow sparse, and access to public transit is limited. As a result, the part of Portland famous for its livability − for charming shops and easy transit, walkable streets and abundant bike paths − increasingly belongs to affluent whites.

Overall, Oregon saw significant gains in communities of color, particularly with 64 percent growth for Latinos and 40 percent for Asians. Statewide, the nonwhite population climbed from 16 percent in 2000 to 22 percent in 2010. Portland as a whole grew more diverse, too, with its nonwhite population increasing from 25 percent to 28 percent. Still, the city showed small gains in diversity compared with most big U.S. cities and solidified its position as the nation’s whitest.

For the first time, Multnomah County, dominated by Portland, took a back seat to Washington County as the state’s most diverse. On the city’s inner east side, however, most census tracts became whiter, even those already overwhelmingly white.

Tracts along Southeast Stark Street, for example, climbed from 78 percent white to 82 percent, or 80 percent to 85 percent. Inner North and Northeast witnessed the most striking transformation. The area bounded by the Willamette River, North Greeley Avenue, Northeast Columbia Boulevard, Northeast 42nd Avenue and Interstate 84 lost about 8,400 people of color, including 7,700 African Americans, or a loss of one in four compared with the population in 2000. Today, about 29,900 people of color remain in a total population of 105,500.

To view data from the U.S. Census for the Portland metro area visit the Portland State University Population Research Center.

Below are the numbers from the 2010 census for Portland as well as the metro area:

  • Population  1,572,771 million people live in the Portland Metro area (Multnomah Country which includes most of the City of Portland), Clackamas County (southeast), Washington County (West), and Clark Country (Vancouver area of Washington state).
  • Portland Population  583,766 – a gain of 10.3% from 2000 numbers.
  • Same-Sex Couples Living in Portland  In Portland, same-sex couples makes up two percent of households according to the 2010 census. And about 60 percent of the state’s gay and lesbian couples reside in the metro area. The number of Oregonians who reported living in same-sex couple households increased nearly 68 percent from 2000 to 2010, from about 8,900 to 14,980.
  • Persons per Square Mile  4,375.3.
  • Age  19.1% under the age of 18 and 80.9% are 18 and older.
  • Race  72.2% white, 9.4% Hispanic, 6.1% black, 0.8% American Indian and Alaska Native, 7.1% Asian, 0.5% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 0.2% some other race, 3.7% are two or more races.
  • Housing  265,439 housing units in Portland. 93.6% are occupied, and 6.4% are vacant or seasonal.

Below are the numbers from the 2010 census for Oregon:

  • Oregon Population  3,844,195 live in Oregon as of July 1, 2010.  This represents a 12% gain from the 2000 census.
  • Households  614,568 total households.  63.7% of the households are family households, and 36.3% are nonfamily households.  49.8% are married couples with a family, and 9.8% are a female householder with no husband present.
  • Race/Ethnicity  80.5% are whites; 2.9% black; 0.9% are American Indian or Alaska Native; 4.9% are Asian, 0.3% are Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 4.1% are some other race, 3.3% are two or more races.  The Hispanic or Latino make up 8% of the total population.

American Factfinder has posted data for the city of Portland entitled Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data

For more details, download the document titled 2010 Census Profiles Oregon and its Counties and Metropolitan Areas from the Portland State University Population Research Center.

With a population of 2.26 million people as of June 2011, the Portland-Vancouver, Wash.-Hillsboro metro area is the 23rd largest metro area in the nation. According to a searchable On Numbers database compiled by the Portland Business Journal, Salem ranked No. 131 nationally with 396,145 people, Eugene-Springfield ranked No. 144 with a population of 354,969, Medford ranked No. 207 with a population of 205,460 and Bend rounded out Oregon’s top five population centers with a ranking of 255th and a population of 161,666. Oregon gained its 4-millionth resident late in 2015 according to estimates from Portland State University‘s Population Research Center.

Another source of demographic data that provides current real estate pricing information along with population stats is the website Find The Home.

Oregon’s Young Migrants Come with High-Tech Skills

Is Portland the place where young people go to retire?  Maybe not.  A new study released in early 2016 of migrants moving to Oregon from other states shows an unusually high number of them are young and that they tend to be well educated, especially in technical fields. That runs against the popular image of TV’s “Portlandia” — a slacker who drifts into the city for a part-time job slinging espresso.

In fact, Oregon is one of the nation’s top destinations for young migrants, according to Josh Lehner of the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, who completed a study of the subject. He contends that bodes well for the state’s long-term economic health because such workers tend to stay put and bring valuable skills to a region perpetually starved for tech workers.

Oregon was No. 6 in the nation in 2014 for the number of young migrants moving to the state, ranked as a percentage of the population. Eighty percent of those coming to the region move to the Portland area.

Where the Money Lives in Portland

There is loads of wealth to the north of Portland in the Seattle area and even more to the south in the Bay area. But in the middle of the two mega income areas Portland-area’s 2013 per-capita income of $43,728, is 99th among U.S. metro areas. 

In late 2015 American City Business Journals (ACBJ), the parent company of the Portland Business Journal sought to go beyond just income to measure affluence. ACBJ released exclusive wealth rankings for 15,090 places and 22,658 ZIP code territories in the U.S. using a 12-part formula that culls data from the five-year version of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey. Along with income, the rankings take into account factors such as home values and sizes, occupations, types of outside income and education levels. Positive scores were awarded in categories in which the city or ZIP code are above the national average; negative scores were given for below-average performances. An area’s final affluence score is the sum of the 12 category scores, multiplied by 100.

An examination of the data shows that Portland has less extreme affluence than many other cities, an indication that the wealth is dispersed much more evenly across the region than in other markets. Here are a few noteworthy points on affluence in Portland:

  • Portland has a literal strip of affluence, a narrow stretch that runs from St. Helens to the north along the rivers south of Oregon City.
  • Portland has far fewer pockets of extreme affluence about the rest of the country. Of more than 22,000 ZIP codes measured, 660 have an affluence score above 200. Portland has just two: 97034 in Lake Oswego and 97221 in Portland’s West Hills area. By contrast, the Seattle area has 13 ZIP codes that scored above 200.
  • The ZIP that includes Old Town, which scored -82.9, is a very tiny island of poverty within Portland’s strip of affluence. That’s the lowest score in the Portland area, yet far better than many places. There were 638 ZIPs nationwide with a score of -100 or lower.

That Portland doesn’t have more areas of high affluence makes it something of an outlier, according to Joe Cortright, founder of the consulting firm Impresa Economics, which specializes in metropolitan economies.

“One of the distinctive characteristics of Portland is that among large U.S. populations we have one of the lowest levels of economic segregation,” Cortright said. “Rich people and poor people tend to be more mixed in different parts of the area than the typical metro area.”

There’s an advantage to such wealth disbursement. In particular, it makes Portland less vulnerable to the economic segregation Cortright mentioned, in which the poor are concentrated within very few neighborhoods.

“It’s toxic,” said Cortright. “It produces intergenerational poverty. We are much better off in a pattern of development and neighborhoods where there’s a mix of income types.”

Oregon Elderly Live Healthier, Longer Lives 

Because they stay physically active and eat smart, Oregon’s seniors have more healthy years ahead of them than folks in most other states.

The Centers for Disease Control released a report in July 2013 that put Oregon’s Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) after 65 — the length of the time after retirement-age that one can expect to stay healthy — at 15 years, ranking it with the top quarter of U.S. states. Healthy life expectancy is a population health measure that combines mortality data with morbidity or health status data to estimate expected years of life in good health for persons at a given age. HLE accounts for quantity and quality of life and can be used to describe and monitor the health status of populations.

Though the report also calculates total post-65 life expectancy — for Oregon it’s 19.3 years — it’s the first government study to give state-by-state data on seniors’ estimated years of sound health.

Oregon tied with four other states — Arizona, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Utah — for ninth through 13th place for some healthy years after retirement age. Washington did slightly better at 15.1 years, and Hawaii came out on top with 16.2 years.

Portland Area’s College-Educated Workers Choose Low-Paying Fields, Shorter Hours

The Portland metro area’s young college-educated white men are slackers when it comes to logging hours on the job, and that’s one reason people here collectively earn $2.8 billion less a year than the national average.

That is among the conclusions of a study released in March 2013 by local business groups called the Value of Jobs Coalition. The study seeks to explain why the metro area’s per-capita income has fallen five percent below the national average as of 2010, down from five percent above it in 1997.

It finds that metro Portlanders tend to choose majors, careers and work hours that lead to low pay. It portrays greater Portland as populated by humanities majors, designers, artists and teachers who work and earn less than in the vast majority of metropolitan areas.

Economic consulting firm ECONorthwest sought answers to Portland’s low-pay puzzle by digging into new data about education levels and earnings in 284 of the nation’s largest metro areas. The Portland metro area, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, includes Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Columbia and Yamhill counties, plus Clark and Skamania counties in Washington.

Among the findings:

  • The Portland area has a healthy share of adults in the workforce, and an above-average share of those have college degrees when compared with other metro areas.
  • Per capita, Portlanders earn 5 percent less than the national metropolitan average, and Portland’s college-educated workers earn 10 percent less. 
  • Compared with other metro areas, Portland has a high share of humanities majors and a notable lack of business majors among its prime-working-age white men.
  • People in legal occupations in the Portland area earn an average of about $100,000 a year, fully 40 percent less than in other metro areas.
  • Average work hours for college-educated white men ages 25 to 39 in the Portland area rank 270th among the 284 metro areas. In Denver and Seattle, college-educated men that age logs about 8 percent more hours a year.

Higher Education & Regional Prosperity; The Story Behind Portland-Metro’s Income Decline says the solution isn’t as simple as getting more to finish college. The subjects college students major in and the fields graduates work in carry vast economic consequences.

The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, administered to a sample of the U.S. population each year, recently began asking residents to report their college majors as well as their degrees, occupations, and earnings. ECONorthwest researchers analyzed those for all 284 metro areas.

Among white male college graduates, they found, metro Portland has an extra-large population of humanities majors, who earn an average of about $55,000 a year. The metro area is a bit short of health majors and way short on business majors, the report says, who earn an average of $79,000 and $89,000, respectively.

Portland Metro Area to Grow to Three Million by 2035

In 20 years, the Portland region will be home to about one-third more residents than the area boasts today. So reports the Metro regional government, which issued its most recent population forecast on June 24, 2014. That would put the number at as many as 3.1 million residents by 2035, according to the planning agency’s researchers.

Overall, the Portland area’s population is expected to rise by between 400,000 and 750,000 residents over the next 21 years. Newcomers to the area will comprise about 60 percent of the growth.

The region gained some 710,000 residents between 1990 and 2010, about the same growth rate the Portland area will experience between now and 2035. 

The projects are based on forecasts from demographers and economists.