Take that, Portland!
Clark County is attracting new residents faster than our neighbor to the south, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division.
Granted, it’s not a huge difference, but the county is growing by 1.7 percent a year, compared with 1.4 percent a year in Portland, said Ben Bolender, chief of the census population estimates branch.
“It looks like the Portland area in general is not growing quite as fast as Clark County,” Bolender said.
Both Portland and Clark County have bucked a national pattern seen in major metropolitan areas including Chicago, New York City and Miami, which are losing domestic populations but gaining new international residents.
“Portland, on the other hand, is gaining from both domestic and international,” Bolender said. “Clark County is also gaining both ways, although more from domestic immigration than from international.”
There are 25,645 more people in Clark County today than there were in 2010, with a growth rate of a bit more than 5,000 people a year, according to the new census data release.
The statistics, which were released late Wednesday, are based on estimates of birth, death and migration rates collected from a variety of agencies.
The release estimates the 2014 population of Clark County at 451,008. In 2010, the census listed 425,363 residents in Clark County.
Clark County’s growth numbers are also significantly higher than neighboring Washington counties.
In Skamania County, the population grew by 274 from 2010 through 2014. The 2014 population estimate for that county is 11,340, compared with 11,066 in 2010.
In Cowlitz County, the population declined by 277 from 2010 through 2014. The 2014 population estimate for that county is 102,133, compared with 102,410 in 2010.
In comparison, our numbers seem relatively parallel to nearby counties in Oregon.
In Clackamas County, Ore., the population grew by 18,980 from 2010 through 2014. The 2014 population estimate for that county is 394,972, compared with 375,992 in 2010.
In Multnomah County, Ore., the population grew by 41,378 from 2010 through 2014. The 2014 population estimate for that county is 776,712, compared with 735,334 in 2010.
In Washington County, Ore., the population grew by 33,288 from 2010 through 2014. The 2014 population estimate for that county is 562,998 compared with 529,710 in 2010.
Nationally, the five fastest-growing counties over the past year were Williams, N.D.; Stark, N.D.; Sumter, Fla.; Pickens, Ala.; and Hays, Texas.
The metropolitan area that includes Portland, Vancouver and Hillsboro, Ore., grew by 122,238 from 2010 through 2014. The 2014 estimate for that population is 2,348,247, compared with 2,226,009 in 2010.
Nationally, the five fastest-growing metropolitan areas were The Villages, Fla.; Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, S.C.-N.C.; Austin-Round Rock, Texas; Odessa, Texas; and St. George, Utah.
Washington’s population grew by 336,990 from 2010 through 2014. The 2014 population estimate for the state is 7,061,530, compared with 6,724,540 in 2010.
Oregon’s population grew by 139,165 from 2010 through 2014. The 2014 population estimate for that state is 3,970,239, compared with 3,831,074 in 2010.
Births, deaths and migration
Clark County birth rates have remained fairly steady at more than 5,300 a year. There were 5,483 births in 2011, 5,314 in 2012, 5,436 in 2013 and 5,377 in 2014.
Death rates tend to hover around 3,000 a year in the county. There were 2,967 deaths in 2011, 3,024 in 2012, 3,073 in 2013 and 3,204 in 2014.
The number of people moving to Clark County from other states averages about 2,300 a year. According to census estimates, there were 2,516 people who moved here from other states in 2011, 2,317 in 2012, 2,363 in 2013 and 2,173 in 2014.
That said, those estimates don’t quite match up with drivers license data collected by the Washington State Department of Licensing.
According to that agency’s data, more than 10,000 people moved to Clark County from other states in the past 12 months. Most of those came from Oregon, followed by California, Arizona, Texas and Idaho.
More specifically, from March 2014 through Feb. 2015, 7,626 people moved from Oregon to Clark County, 2,614 people moved here from California, 671 moved from Arizona, 562 moved from Texas and 349 from Idaho.
“It’s not too uncommon to see migration streams go to relatively nearby locations,” Bolender said of the Department of Licensing information.
Bolender said the census estimates have an error margin of about plus or minus 3 percent. That data is gathered from IRS tax exemption forms and Medicare enrollment mostly, he said.
Drivers license information is collected in a different manner, and Bolender said the difference between the two is likely because of the differing methodologies.
“You may pick up a lot of people getting new licenses, but you may not be picking up people leaving and turning in licenses,” Bolender said.
The number of international immigrants to Clark County, according to the census release, is low but steady at around 650 a year. There were 552 in 2011, 598 in 2012, 686 in 2013 and 683 in 2014.
In 2014, about 18.9 million people moved between counties in the U.S., which is slightly down from about 19.1 million the year before, according to the Census Bureau’s Random Samplings blog.
The blog post noted that migration patterns across the U.S. changed significantly before and after the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009.
“Just as people moving around can have big impacts on social and economic events, the reverse is also true — social and economic events can influence migration,” the blog post said. “Take the Great Recession for example, which occurred from 2007 to 2009. We can see real differences in migration patterns across the country if we look at 2006 (the year before the recession) and numbers from our most recent estimates.”
The biggest upward shift in population before and after the Great Recession was seen in San Diego County, Calif., according to the blog. That county declined by almost 38,000 people who moved to other states in 2006. In 2014, the population grew by about 2,500.
Broward County, Fla., also experienced a big shift, going from a loss of 27,000 in 2006 to a gain of 2,400 in 2014.
“We see several areas where gains were consistent in both years — Central Florida, some metropolitan counties in Texas, Northern Virginia and parts of the West,” the blog said. “Other counties, like those in the central and northern Great Plains, seem like their gains popped up out of nowhere.”
Other counties in the U.S. flipped the opposite way after the Great Recession.
The biggest downward shift in population was in Will County, Ill. That county had gained 17,000 people in 2006. In 2014, the population declined by about 2,900.
“Net loss counties are often located in rural areas in the Northeast and Midwest, and 2014 shows a number of new counties following that trend,” the blog post said. “We do see a few big changes, though, like many Nevada counties losing people through migration, where they were gaining them just eight years before.”