Are People Moving Out of Portland? A Population Update for 2023

Article thumbnail

What is happening in Portland these days in terms of population growth? After the massive surge in Oregon’s population over the decade from 2010-2020, with growth of 10.6% leading up to the disruption of the pandemic, what factors have affected Portland’s population over the last three years? Let’s take a look at the most recent trends influencing population fluctuations in and around the Portland Metro area.

As we shared in our last population update, the statistics since 2020 continue to tell two different stories within the Portland metro. The population growth of Portland suburbs (the whole metro) and population loss within the City of Portland’s official boundaries (the city proper).

Portland Population Decreased in 2021

There was already a slight decline in Portland’s growth rate over a few years leading up to 2020. Then the U.S. Census Bureau for Portland showed that Portland city proper (not its suburbs) lost 11,000 residents from July 2020 to July 2021 (numbers are not yet updated for 2022). In 2021, the population growth within Portland city limits had slowed considerably.

Portland Population Decreased in 2022

Over the next year, according to PSU’s Population Research Center, Multnomah County experienced a -0.29% decrease in population from July 2021 to July 2022. The entire city of Portland is contained within Multnomah county, along with Oregon’s fourth largest city, Gresham. In addition to Multnomah county, the Portland metro “tri-county area” is comprised of Clackamas and Washington counties, and the remaining suburbs are found primarily within these two counties.

County2022 Certified Population EstimatePopulation Growth / Decline
Multnomah810, 242-0.29%
Clackamas430, 4210.84%
Washington606, 3780.25%
Data courtesy of PSU Population Research Center

In contrast, both Clackamas and Washington counties did not experience a loss in population, but enjoyed continued population growth. As you can see in the chart above, the suburbs of Clackamas county experienced the highest growth at .84%, an increase of .10% over the year before. The population of Washington county continued to grow as well, but at a slower rate than in 2021, when its growth percentage was .69%. This data demonstrates the trend over the last few years of buyers preferring the suburbs over Portland proper. Despite population loss within the city of Portland, the Portland metro area saw an overall population growth of 1.05% over the last year. With the continued growth of the surrounding suburbs, we can surmise that the Portland metro area continues to draw in new residents as a desirable place to live.

The State of Oregon Lost Population in 2022

From July 2021 to July of 2022, while many states enjoyed a higher rate of population growth compared to recent years, Oregon’s overall population declined by 0.4% according to the U.S. Census Bureau, marking 2022 as the first year Oregon has seen a decrease in population since 1983. An article by OPB points to a lack of people moving to Oregon as the cause of population decline. Since deaths usually outnumber births in Oregon, population growth has been dependent on in-migration from other states. In total, Oregon experienced a negative 17,000 net domestic migration in 2022 – in other words, 17,000 more Oregonians moved out-of-state than people moved here from other states.

For a more in-depth look at population decline, here is an OPB interview in which Josh Lehner, a state economist, discusses Oregon’s overall population decrease.

Portland’s Population Growth Forecast for 2023 and Beyond

The graph below displays an overview of population growth in entire Portland metro area. As we can see, population has continued to increase since 2010 and the population of the Portland metro is projected to experience continued growth for years to come, due to suburb population growth, despite the decline within Portland proper. But with Oregon losing population as a whole in 2022 (at least according to the Census Bureau), only time will tell! We will continue to observe how the future shapes migration patterns to and from the Portland area, and it remains to be seen how long it will take for population growth to stabilize.

Courtesy of Macrotrends

Slowed Population Growth is Also Happening Nationwide

At the end of 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau shared that the country’s population had grown by only 0.1% that year, which was the lowest rate since our nation’s founding. The slow rate of growth was attributed to fewer international migrations, higher mortality rates caused in part by the Covd 19 pandemic, and decreased birth rates. Recent information from the U.S. Census Bureau demonstrates that population growth may now be on its way to recovering with a rate of 0.4% at the end of 2022.

Who’s Moving in and out of Oregon?

While numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau painted a somewhat bleak picture of population loss in 2022, estimates by the Population Research Center at PSU show the reverse, with a 0.35% gain in population over the same time period. This contradiction in findings is due to the different methodologies and sources employed by each institution to arrive at their numbers. They share many of the same data points, but the Census Bureau uses IRS tax return mailing addresses (which PSU doesn’t have immediate access to), and Portland State includes labor and housing market statistics in their estimates. The most dramatic difference between their two conclusions was that Multnomah County lost 3,000 residents in 2022 according to PSU’s Population Research Center, but the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimate was four times higher (numbers have not yet been released). This tells us that Oregon’s recent loss in population may not have been quite so dramatic, and studies from major moving companies support this idea.

Conflicting Population Reports

United Van Lines shared that Oregon had the second-highest number of moves into the state by its customers than other states, with 67% of moves inbound and 33% outbound. They also found that Eugene and Portland ranked among the top metro areas for in-migration, with Eugene at 69% and Portland at 65% of their customers moving into the cities. Studies from Uhaul also confirm that more of their customers moved into Oregon than departed the state. And interestingly, according to their report, the Oregon cities with the most growth were Happy Valley, Beaverton, Sherwood and Roseburg – the top two being Portland suburbs.

While the pandemic disrupted how and where people lived in 2020 and beyond, we can still assume most in-migration to Oregon comes from neighboring states. The appeal of moving to Portland is its relative affordability to those leaving larger and more expensive cities. Although Oregonians have expressed dissatisfaction with the influx of Californians in the past, not everyone is upset by it. We break down the pros and cons of in-migration from California here.

And according to data from the Oregon Employment Department and the U.S. Census Bureau, half the number of people who migrate to Oregon from California do the inverse, moving to California from Oregon. While some Oregonians are heading south, many are also heading north to Seattle, while others make their way to Arizona and Texas. An article by KGW-TV cites changing housing priorities due to the pandemic and high taxes as reasons why people choose to leave Portland.


The Portland real estate market was already slowing prior to 2020, but over the course of the next two years it turned back into a hot sellers market. The only part of the Portland real estate market still lagging after 2020 was condominiums. Condo sales did improve in 2021. In early 2022, the condo market made a full recovery with lower inventory than the previous year and a higher rate of closed sales. But the second half of 2022 saw fast dropping prices in the condo segment and increased days on market.

Condos Price per Sq. Ft., Data from Fidelity
Condos Day on Market Average

As you can see condo prices are finally starting to stabilize and days on market looks like it has peaked and should be dropping soon.

Detached Homes

This month we have already seen detached homes rise in demand, due to extremely low inventory. Typically spring is the best time to sell a home in the greater Portland metro every year, and it looks like that will be the case again in 2023.

Thinking of Moving In or Out of Portland?

If you’re considering moving to Portland or if you’re a Portland resident seeking a new house within the metro area, our top 1% buyer’s team would love to help you find your ideal home. Likewise, if you’re thinking of moving out of Portland, upgrading to a larger home or downsizing and staying put, our top 1% seller’s team can assist with all of your needs. Our real estate experience in the Portland metro area includes over 2,000 completed sales, and we’d love to put our expertise to work for you. Call us today at 503-714-1111.

Let's Connect
Contact us.

What My Clients Are Saying

Stephen was just simply a fantastic realtor to work with in selling our home. If we had another 50 properties to sell, Stephen would be in charge of all of them. He was so professional in handling every detail of our sale, and he was so responsive to every question that came up in the course of our transaction. My wife and I are very thankful that we found Stephen.