A new report from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis projects that Oregon will see deaths outnumber births sometime in the next decade.
“Our office believes it will turn negative here in 2026 or 2027,” said Josh Lehner, an economist with the state, “which will be the first time in Oregon’s recorded history that we’ve seen deaths outnumber births.”
This will have effects on the state as a whole, he said.
“These things have big implications,” Lehner said, “not just for companies looking to expand, you know the pizza parlors won’t sell as many pizzas or whatever the case may be, but of course that translates into less economic activity and less state tax revenue.”
Other implications include future funding for school districts — as births aren’t evenly dispersed across the state — and a future potential lack of workforce.
Fourteen of Oregon’s 36 counties are currently seeing deaths outnumber births, according to the Office of Economic Analysis.
“Half of the counties have already seen this in recent years,” Lehner said. “It’s really about it becoming more spread out across the state.”
Most of those counties are rural.
“The counties that seem to have better demographic trends are our larger, faster-growing urban areas,” Lehner said. “They’re the ones that are really attracting these new people moving to Oregon — these young, working-age households, which also tend to become young parents.”
There are some outlying rural counties that are still seeing a significant number of births over deaths like Morrow and Umatilla. Lehner said this is due to more communities of color living there, who typically have more children than white communities.
As the state heads toward deaths outnumbering births, Oregon will rely more and more on migration as a key driver for growth, Lehner said.
“Population growth is so key for Oregon’s long-run [economic] growth,” he said.
Any factors that would harm migration to Oregon — such as housing affordability or natural disasters — would have a large effect on the state’s economy and public sector budgets, the report states.