Job growth driving huge migration of new residents to Portland

According to the Oregon Office of Economics, approximately 40,000 people are moving to Portland every year. These new migrants come from everywhere and include all ages and ethnic backgrounds. The biggest numbers of migrants are those in the 20-30 year age group and are well educated, even if many are unemployed. That may seem like an oxymoron, but for the educated, areas with high job growth are natural locales for seeking employment. And the young are generally more mobile than any other age group.

Most people move for two economic reasons; jobs and housing costs.

Portland has been leading the country for migration, and our pace of people moving into this area far exceed the number of those leaving.

Because there are so many people moving to the Portland area unemployed, our unemployment rate is higher than most cities in the country. While 50,000 new jobs have been added since the recession, this number is not nearly high enough to accommodate the number of new job seekers who arrive every year, never mind put back to work those who lost their jobs during the recession.

The good news is that picture is changing this year. Currently Portland is adding approximately 4,000 new jobs every month, so at this current rate, our unemployment numbers should start to drop at least in line with the rest of the country.

Housing is an issue though that has everyone concerned. As our housing prices continue to rise, more current residents find themselves priced out of the market. In some areas of the country, housing starts are up, but Oregon starts remain relatively flat which has caused our inventory to hit alarming lows – down as low as 1.2 months inventory at the close of 2015. Optimistically speaking, the hope is that housing starts will increase enough to keep up with demand within the next 1-3 years which should stabilize housing and rental prices.

Oregon Office of Economics forecasts “By this time next year, if our forecast comes to pass, employment in Oregon will have fully caught up to the population gains since the onset of the Great Recession.” Hopefully our housing needs will catch up to our needs within the next few years too.


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