ROSEBURG, Ore. — Douglas County’s population is diminishing, according to 2012 Oregon Census Bureau numbers. But city leaders in Roseburg say those numbers don’t tell the whole story.
County administrators say the Oregon census bureau isn’t where they get their numbers from and that the drop in population isn’t a true representation of the county.
“I have seen those numbers and seen the reports, and my indications are that it increased,” said Joseph Laurance, Douglas County Commissioner.
Laurance doesn’t understand how the census bureau could be reporting a population loss. He and other Douglas County administrators use Portland State University for population figures and are confident that they’re the most accurate source for county planning.
“Lots of people forecast population, and it’s as good a guestimation game as it could be,” said Keith Cubic, Douglas County Planning Director.
Portland State projects an increase of about 400 people in Douglas County, but the census numbers actually show a loss of about the same number.
“We find a lot of people who move here their kids are enrolled, and then when they get in high school the enrollment goes down from what you would project from who’s in school at first grade,” said Teresa Clemons, Roseburg Community Planner.
She says as the children get older, families move to areas where there are more resources for the children and job opportunities for the parents.
Roseburg leaders say the lower numbers could also be the result of a counting discrepancy. Clemons says it’s common for residents to not even return forms. She says that’s because their mail boxes are often too far away.
Roseburg city officials say they’re not using the census numbers because it makes it difficult to plan for growth.