Where Central Oregonians relocate

New data show locals don’t go far

By Tim Doran / The Bulletin / @Newsinbendor


Published Feb 7, 2014 at 12:01AM / Updated Feb 7, 2014 at 08:37AM

Many Central Oregon residents who found new places to live between 2007 and 2011 generally did not move too far, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Most of those leaving Crook and Jefferson counties during those years moved into Deschutes County, the data show, while Lane County was the top destination for those moving out of Deschutes.

That doesn’t surprise Josh Lehner, economist with the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.

“People don’t tend to move very far,” said Lehner, who has written about migration patterns on the department’s blog.

When they decide to relocate, he said, people usually move for housing, jobs or retirement.

But in the depths of the recession — which officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009 for the nation, and a little longer in Central Oregon — with unemployment skyrocketing and housing prices plummeting, they hardly moved at all.

“Nobody moves during a recession,” he said.

For the state as a whole, migration has been important historically, Lehner said.

During the 1990s and into the mid-2000s, about three-quarters of Oregon’s population growth came from migration, Lehner wrote in a Jan. 23 blog post. Typically, those moving into the state are educated workers, who help boost the economy.

Most of those moving to Oregon from outside the state come from California, predominantly the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, Lehner wrote in August, citing federal tax-return data from 2007-08 and 2009-10.

They head to Southern and Central Oregon and the South Coast, although a fair share also move to Portland.

While Oregon gains overall from California, it loses population to Washington, Lehner said, creating a northern movement on the West Coast.

Deschutes may have been the top destination for those moving out of Crook and Jefferson counties between 2007-11, according to the Census data, but the counties around Portland, Eugene, Corvallis and Medford also ranked high on the list.

That’s not unusual, either, Lehner said.

When Oregonians move within the state, they typically head to the Portland area or other cities in the Willamette Valley, continuing a pattern of urbanization, Lehner wrote.

“If you’re moving within the state of Oregon, you’re moving to Portland,” he said Thursday. “If you’re not moving to Portland, you’re moving to some other part of the valley.”

While the number of people moving into Oregon slowed during the recent recession, enough of them relocated to keep the state’s migration in positive territory, unlike during several years in the 1980s, when more people were leaving and the state lost population.

Recently, the flow of people moving into the state has started to pick up again, said Lehner, who heard about it firsthand during a recent presentation in Medford.

“All the Realtors said, ‘the Californians are back,”’ he said.

— Reporter: 541-383-0360

tdoran@bendbulletin.com