There are two components of population change: natural increase and net migration. Natural increase is the number of births in an area minus the number of deaths. And net migration is the number of people who moved into an area minus the number of people who moved out. Both of these components varied widely across Eastern Oregon counties from 2010 to 2015, resulting in stark differences in population change.
Grant County saw the smallest overall population change for the period (-0.2 percent) and was the only county apart from Harney to experience a drop in population since 2010. Umatilla’s population grew by 4.3 percent (3,266 people); the largest change within the eight county region and only 0.5 percentage points behind the state growth rate of 4.8 percent.
For Baker, Grant, Harney and Wallowa deaths outpaced births from 2010 to 2015. This was primarily due to the large and growing share of residents ages 65 years and over, as well as the small share of 15 to 34 year olds in each of the four counties. The largest difference between births and deaths came in Wallowa County with 45.5 percent more deaths than births for the period. Harney County had the smallest difference with 2.9 percent more deaths than births.
For Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla and Union births outpaced deaths. This was primarily due to the large share of 15 to 34 year olds, as well as the small share of residents ages 65 years and over in each of the four counties. The largest difference between births and deaths came in Morrow County with 103.8 percent more births than deaths. Union County had the smallest difference with 17.2 percent more births than deaths.
Only two counties in Eastern Oregon experienced negative net migration from 2010 to 2015. Malheur County saw 526 more people choose to move out of, rather than into the county; while Harney County saw 114 more people choose to exit rather than enter. For Harney County, negative net migration combined with negative natural increase for an overall population loss of 127 since 2010. For Malheur County, positive natural increase outweighed negative net migration for an overall population gain of 167 since 2010.
Christopher Rich is a regional economist covering Eastern Oregon for the Oregon Employment Department.