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2020 Census: Oregon growing larger and more diverse

Why are people moving to Oregon? Sen. James Manning says it's for the natural resources and the economy.

Posted: Oct 7, 2021 1:32 PM
Updated: Oct 7, 2021 6:16 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The 2020 U.S. Census shows Oregon's population grew about 10.6% over the previous 10 years, making it one of the top 13 fastest growing states in the country.

RELATED: OREGON ADDS ONE CONGRESSIONAL SEAT AFTER CENSUS DATA SHOWS LARGE INCREASE IN POPULATION

In that time, Oregon also became more diverse with a 37.6% growth in Asian Americans, 21% growth in African Americans and 30.8% growth in Hispanic and Latin Americans, according to the latest data.

Sen. James Manning said people are choosing to move to Oregon for the natural resources and the economy.

"The property taxes are pretty low in the state of Oregon. People have purchased a bunch of homes as investment property," said Manning. "We have great natural resources here as well but there's no sales tax so your dollar is stretched a lot further here."

Manning also said Oregon is working on becoming a more inclusive state.

"Oregon has been looking very recently on how to become a more diverse and welcoming state," said Manning. "We also have a strong tech base that's drawing people here."

Kolini Fusitua, a program coordinator for the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization based in Portland, said the community had always existed in Oregon but it's the community engagement that has changed.

"In actuality, there's wasn't a huge jump in the last count," said Fusitua. "The difference was the Census Bureau recruited community leaders like myself to reach out to the community."

Fusitua also said many Pacific Islanders choose to come to Oregon to join their relatives.

"It's not like we're here to go sightseeing in Mount Hood," said Fusitua. "They're here because relatives are here and to find jobs."

Oregon economist Joshua Lehner said this past decade was actually one of the slowest growth decades in the state's recorded history.

"Compared to the growth we saw in other decades like the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1990s, that was all much faster than what we just experienced," Lehner said.

Lehner said those who are moving here are coming for job opportunities and housing.

"I think 60 to 70 percent of people moving to Oregon say they're moving for a job or in search of a job," said Lehner. "There's also housing affordability. Even though Oregon is one of the least affordable housing markets, from a sticker price perspective, we're certainly more affordable than our neighbors on the west coast."

Two people that came for a job and a house are Georgia Fletcher and Jim Kirschner. The couple moved cross country from New Hampshire nearly three years ago when they got the opportunity to manage the Briarwood manufactured home community in Eugene.

"We started to realize right away, this area really suited us," said Fletcher. "Who could guess? We left New Hampshire with nothing."

The couple said they had been looking to move to the West Coast for a while but never imagined to call Oregon home.

"One of the only things we knew for sure, other than we wanted to be on the West Coast, was that we wanted to be close to the ocean," Fletcher said. "We're in the perfect position to go directly to the ocean."

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