The Oregonian reported in March that population growth in the Portland area slowed down last year, but data from Portland State University indicates it held steady — at a head-spinning 1.9 percent annual rate, no less.
So which one is it? Here’s what we found out.
ANNUAL ESTIMATES ARE TRICKY: The reason for the competing numbers is that two different organizations — the U.S. Census Bureau and PSU’s Population Research Center (PRC) — both generate their own population estimates. These estimates are almost identical in the long run, but there’s some year-to-year variation.
One reason it’s hard to get on the same page is that population estimates are extremely tricky. PSU researcher Charles Rynerson says PRC looks at public data on births, deaths, tax returns, driver’s licenses, school enrollment, medicare enrollment, and other measures to come with estimates for each county, then sends a questionnaire to cities to figure out how those county-level population numbers are distributed. It’s an inexact science, he says. “Estimates are estimates.”
BUT MEDIA STILL LOVE ANNUAL NUMBERS: Despite the statistical squishiness, annual estimates get almost all the love in the media, partly because they’re new and fresh every year, and partly because they lend themselves to flashy headlines like “Portland sees record growth last year!”
But even though “Portland’s eight-year growth curve inches upward” might not have quite the same ring to it, Rynerson says those long-term numbers are what the public (and elected officials) should really focus on. “One-year change is what attracts everybody’s attention, but really the most important statistic is what has changed since the last census,” he says. “The longer-term estimate is more reliable.”
SO WHAT DO THE TRENDS SAY? The Census Bureau and PRC numbers agree — the city of Portland and the broader metro area (which includes Vancouver, Hillsboro, and Portland’s suburbs) are growing really fast.
Let’s just look at Portland. Since 2010, population has grown an average of 1.3 percent per year, bringing the city’s population up from 583,776 to 639,100 — an increase of about 55,000. For scale, that’s the same growth we’d get if we invited basically every person in Corvallis over for dinner and then they all stayed (which would be terrible, because Go Ducks.)
So even if the growth rate did drop a smidge in 2017, Rynerson says the long-term trend is the bigger story. “It’s unfortunate to see a lot of attention on the fact that it might be lower than it had been,” he says. “For one, it was off the charts. And two, it’s still really high.”
Got questions about how Portland will accommodate all this growth? Let us know. We’ll be doing a series on housing issues this fall and digging into your burning Qs.
Ditching diesel. TriMet says it plans to invest nearly $500,000 in electric buses, following the lead of many other transit agencies that have introduced battery-powered buses to cut down on carbon emissions. A complete switch away from TriMet’s fleet of 658 diesel coaches is unlikely to happen anytime soon; the short-term goal is to order 80 electric buses in the next five years. (OregonLive)
Just don’t call it Pizzagate. The ‘za-loving Twittersphere erupted yesterday after an international pizza consultant dubbed Portland “America’s Best Pizza City.” Citing our region’s access to fresh produce and high-quality flour, Anthony Falco said the pies he tasted at Apizza Scholls, Lovely’s Fifty Fifty and Scottie’s rivaled anything found east of the Mississippi. The real question: How the heck does one get a job as a pizza consultant? (Eater)
Kicks and coffee. Remember when we introduced you to Ian Williams and Deadstock Coffee back in March? Nike just released a cool new video about how Williams went from a shoe-obsessed janitor to a Nike footwear developer to the owner of a sneaker-inspired coffee shop. Congrats on the feature, Ian! (Facebook)
The wildfire effect. Smoky skies and low visibility once again deterred many would-be visitors from Crater Lake this summer, the second consecutive year of declining visitation at Oregon’s only national park. The good news? An early clear-out led to the park’s busiest Labor Day weekend in recent memory. (The Bulletin)
To catch a bike thief. Portland Police had all hands on deck in the search for a man who stole a child’s bike from a front yard in Northeast Portland on Friday evening. A police dog and air-support team (!) eventually helped officers find the suspect hiding in some bushes; he was arrested and the bike was returned to the girl’s family. (BikePortland)
🎸 Hear some ‘infectious southern rock and roll’ (SE | Central Eastside)
😂 Catch Craig Ferguson at Revolution Hall (SE | Central Eastside)
🎵 Join an all-comers bluegrass jam (Hillsboro)
🗣️ See the Broadway hit ‘Waitress’ – through Sunday (Downtown)
💃 Salsa dance after work (SE | Arleta)
🍸 Drink while you craft (NE | Laurelhurst)
👗 Go to an experimental fashion show (NE | Albina)
🍻 Taste some fresh-hop brews (SE | Central Eastside)
🎽 Be inspired by a long-distance running story (NW | Alphabet)
🐦 Watch the swifts and grab a beer – through September (NW | Alphabet)
🎸 Play air guitar with a Tom Petty tribute band (Downtown)
😈 See Hell’s Belles at Dante’s (Downtown)
🇩🇪 Drop by the Stammtisch Oktoberfest party – through Sunday (NE | Kerns)
🙈 Watch a Stephen King double feature (NE | Hollywood)
📽️ Or go to an indie film festival – through Sep. 26 (Multiple locations)
🕹️ Play arcade games for keeps (SE | Hawthorne)
☘️ Celebrate the Celtic Faire (Hillsboro)
🇵🇱 Or the Polish Festival – through Sunday (NE | Albina)
🚴 Catch the last Sunday Parkways ride of 2018 (NE | Alberta)
🐰 Watch Looney Tunes on the big screen (Downtown)
📚 Get a Family Day deal at the Oregon HIstorical Society (Downtown)
Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag #bridgeliner on Instagram to be featured.