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Population Growth In Northwest Oregon

The population of northwest Oregon (Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, and Tillamook counties) increased by 1,343 over the year to an estimated 269,679 in 2022. The average growth rate since 2020 has been 0.5% per year, much slower than the 1.2% annual growth during the 1990s and even slower than rates of the 2000s and 2010s. Growth in the region has slipped back to about what it was in 2013 and 2014 when the region was recovering from the Great Recession. Population growth seems tied to economic performance in the region.

The region grew by 2,000 or more people each year from 2005 through 2007 during the housing boom. It slowed as immigration slowed during the recession and early recovery. In 2014 population growth jumped by 1,900, and growth was more than that every year until 2021. Even though there was a pandemic recession in 2020, the official population estimate showed a massive increase of 5,835 for that one year – almost certainly due largely to the 2020 Census. In reality, the population estimates had been too low from 2010 to 2020 and the adjustments to correct them were recorded in the Census year.

All five counties in northwest Oregon have been growing over the long run and are expected to continue doing so. Lincoln County also relies heavily on migration for population growth. The county added 222 residents in 2022, which was pretty similar to its growth from 2013 through 2018. The county’s population has grown an average of 0.7% per year since 2020. Lincoln County also got a big boost (+2,127) to its estimated population in the 2020 Census year. The county attracts retirees: high national housing prices, a pandemic, and remote work probably nudge people who want to retire to Oregon’s beautiful coast. Slow job growth, lower wages, and high housing prices limit the county’s ability to attract even more migrants.

Most of Lincoln County’s population also lives along the coast. Siletz is the only truly interior city, and it added 17 residents from 2020 to 2022. The two biggest cities, Newport and Lincoln City, added 499 residents and 319 residents respectively during the two years. Unincorporated areas in the county often add the most residents, but from the 2020 Census to 2022 unincorporated Lincoln County lost an estimated 463 residents.

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