Portland area leads Oregon population growth

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PORTLAND — Census Bureau figures show Oregon's population growth strongest in the Portland area, with numbers declining in some rural and eastern counties.

Annual estimates put the population of the Portland metro area at nearly 2.3 million in July 2012, up 2.9 percent since the 2010 census, The Oregonian reported.

The largest population gains were in Washington, Multnomah, Deschutes, Wasco and Clackamas counties. Washington County posted the largest population gain, 1.5 percent year over year.

The biggest population losses were in Curry, Grant, Lake, Harney and Wallowa counties, each down more than 1 percent. Fourteen of the 36 counties had declines.

About 60 percent of the state's population gain was due to migration and 40 percent because of more births than deaths.

The statewide population, nearing 3.9 million, was up 0.8 percent from a year earlier and 1.8 percent from the 2010 Census.

During the early part of the 2000s, the statewide population was growing by more than 1 percent a year, said Risa Proehl, a research associate at the Population Research Center at Portland State University.

"When the recession hit, growth rates slowed down," she said. "But even though it's still under 1 percent, the growth rate has increased every year since at least 2010."

Declines were concentrated in more rural counties in Eastern Oregon and in coastal communities.

"Typically, more rural counties will see an out-migration of young adults," Proehl said. "Those numbers aren't replaced, especially if there isn't any job availability."