Clark County has cracked the half-million population mark, adding residents at a rate that made it the fastest growing county in the Portland-Vancouver metro area and second-fastest-growing county in Washington.
The milestone was a top highlight of 2020 census data released Thursday. The county’s population rose from 425,363 in the 2010 census to 503,311 in 2020.
The county’s 18.3 percent growth rate for the decade was exceeded only by Franklin County, with 23.8 percent growth. Several other counties saw growth similar to Clark County, including Benton County at 18.1 percent, King County at 17.5 percent and Thurston County at 16.9 percent.
Clark County’s growth outpaced all other counties in the Portland Metro area, well over Multnomah County’s 10.9 percent, Washington County’s 13.3 percent, Clackamas County’s 12.1 percent, Columbia County’s 6.6 percent, Skamania County’s 8.8 percent and Yamhill County’s 8.6 percent.
The total population of the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of the above counties, climbed to 2,512,859 in the 2020 census, a 12.9 percent increase from the population of 2,226,009 reported in 2010. Clark County accounts for 20 percent of the area’s population as of 2020, up from 19.1 percent in 2010.
Ridgefield saw the highest growth rate by far among cities in Clark County, more than doubling its population over the past decade from 4,763 in 2010 to 10,319 in 2020, a 116.6 percent increase.
Vancouver’s population grew from 161,791 in 2010 to 190,915 in 2020, an increase of 18 percent. Battle Ground grew from 17,571 to 20,743, an increase of 18.1 percent. Camas grew from 19,355 to 26,065, an increase of 34.7 percent, and Washougal grew from 14,095 to 17,039, an increase of 20.9 percent.
Adult population leads
The percentage of the Clark County population age 18 and over was 76.7 percent, a figure that was lower than that of most other Washington counties but far from the lowest. Douglas, Grant, Yakima, Adams, Franklin and Benton Counties all had lower percentages. Adams County was the lowest, at 66.1 percent.
Washington’s overall percentage of residents age 18 and over was 78.2 percent in 2020, and the figure for the United States was 77.9 percent.
In 2010, the percentage of the Clark County’s population age 18 or older was 73.5 percent.
Adults comprised the vast majority of Clark County’s population growth over the past decade. The county’s population of residents age 18 and over grew by 73,047, an increase of 23.4 percent, while the population of residents under 18 grew by 4,901, an increase of only 4.4 percent.
The 23.4 percent growth rate of Clark County’s 18-and-older population was the second-highest in the state, exceeded only by Franklin County’s 28.9 percent.
Clark County saw a substantial increase in housing units from 2010 to 2020, reflecting the county’s breakneck pace of construction. Housing units grew from 167,413 in 2020 to 195,036 in 2020, an increase of 16.5 percent. The county’s vacancy rate as of 2020 is 4 percent.
The county ranked third in the state for housing growth, exceeded by Benton County at 16.7 percent and Franklin County at 21.8 percent. The housing growth rate for Washington overall was 7.1 percent, and the national rate was 6.7 percent.
The county’s demographic breakdown, according to the 2020 census data, was 75.5 percent white, 2.3 percent Black, 1 percent Native American, 4.8 percent Asian, 1.1 percent Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 5 percent other single race and 10.4 percent two or more races.
The county’s Diversity Index score — an estimate of the probability that two people chosen at random from a given geographic group will be from different race and ethnicity groups — was 44.8 percent, compared with 55.9 percent for Washington overall and 61.1 percent for the United States overall.