Oregon’s population declined for second year in a row, according to census data

By Kyra Buckley (OPB)
Dec. 26, 2023 2 p.m.

Economists say the state’s economy has long relied on workers moving to Oregon to help grow the labor force

Interstate 205 runs along the east side of Portland, intersecting several major highways, July 2022.

Interstate 205 runs along the east side of Portland, intersecting several major highways, July 2022.

MacGregor Campbell / OPB

Oregon’s once steady population growth has come to a halt in the last few years, according to new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.


Oregon’s population went down by a little more than 6,000 people – or 0.1% – from July 2022 to July 2023, according to census data released Tuesday. Stretching back to 2021, overall census numbers estimate the state’s population went down by 0.5%, or about 23,000 people.

The numbers are different from Portland State University’s estimate that Oregon added a small number of residents over the same 12-month period.


“Of course these new Census estimates are in contrast to the population estimates from Portland State’s Population Research Center,” writes Josh Lehner, an Oregon state economist, in an analysis. “Their latest estimates showed Oregon’s population holding steady in 2022, following a downward revision, and then a moderate rebound in 2023.”

While U.S. Census Data is important in determining things like federal funding for certain programs or congressional seats, Oregon policymakers mostly use PSU’s numbers when drafting legislation or as a foundation for other official state business.

According to PSU’s Population Research Center, the state welcomed 23,397 people from July 2022 to July 2023, representing a 0.55% increase. PSU also crunched county-level data, which showed Multnomah County grew by 0.21% or 1,728 people.

Oregon employment economist Gail Krumenauer said both data sets show a big turnaround from historical trends.

“One of the advantages that Oregon has had relative to many other states – and overall in the U.S.,” Krumenauer said, “is that we’ve been able to grow our employment, grow jobs, at a greater rate over the course of the past few decades than the U.S. on average, and more than other states.”

Krumenauer said that’s because in past years, more people moved to Oregon than left the state. Economists call that net in-migration, and Krumenauer said that’s previously been the main driver for growth in the state’s labor force.

“Either case now, either very slow population growth or decline, is a very different story,” she said. “Either one of them spells lower labor force growth for us.”