Oregon drops from top spot, but still one of top moving destinations in U.S.

Oregon is one of the top moving destinations in the United States, according to recent migration studies.

Oregon had the second-highest percentage of inbound moves, with 957 shipments moving into the state and 590 moving out of the state, according to Atlas Van Lines, a household goods mover agency.

The agency released data collected based on national migration patterns in and out of states from January 1, 2016 through December 15, 2016.

A second moving company — United Van Lines — had Oregon as the third-most popular inbound destination in 2016, trailing South Dakota and Vermont. Oregon had been ranked first by United Van Lines the past three years.

RELATED: Oregon no longer most popular moving destination

Why Oregon?

Just over 52 percent of people moving to Oregon stated one of the primary reasons for moving was for employment, according to the United Movers Study.

Patrick O'Connor, a regional economist with the Oregon Employment Department, said Oregon has consistently been a state with strong in-migration.

"It wouldn’t surprise me that when we do better, even more people would take the leap to move to Oregon," O'Connor said, referring to Oregon's economic growth.

Oregon's annual job growth rate surged to a high in 2015, when 60,400 jobs were added during a 12-month period. The last time the state experienced a gain of that magnitude was in 1997.

In 2016, Oregon reported the second-largest job growth gain in the nation at 3.3 percent, just behind Washington state's 3.5 percent gain, according to data released by the Labor Department.

Gail Krumenauer, senior economic analyst with the Oregon Employment Department, said Oregon has usually been a major in-migration state, with the exception of the early 1980s.

Krumenauer said Oregon has outpaced the United States average annual growth rate for the past four years.

"But when job opportunities are plentiful, then that fuels the already underlying trend to an even greater degree," Krumenauer said.

Over the past two decades, Oregon has had an average net migration of 27,900 people per year, according to research conducted by Portland State University's Population Research Center.

Roughly 65 percent of Oregon's population gain from 2010 to 2015 was from migration from other states, specifically 120,000 individuals.

Salem's Metropolitan Statistical Area population grew from 390,738 in 2010 to 408,340 in 2015, according to the Population Research Center.  The SMSA refers to Marion and Polk counties.

O'Connor said while it did take Salem a little longer to bounce back from the Great Recession compared to Portland, it has gained traction over the past few years and made up for lost time with growing job opportunities.

"There could be a long list of reasons why Oregon is a nice place to live, but the big picture is really its ability to grow during economic recovery periods," O'Connor said.

Governor Kate Brown signed a bill in March of 2016 enacting a minimum wage increase that creates three minimum wage tiers for the state - for rural areas, standard areas which would include cities like Salem, and the Portland-metro area.

In the second quarter of 2016 alone, incomes in Oregon were growing faster than the economic national average.

Oregon saw a 4.1 percent wage increase in the second quarter compared to the 2.2 percent national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Oregon's unemployment dropped to 5 percent in November 2016, down from the 5.6 percent unemployment rate in November 2015.

Oregon's growth over the past year was faster that the national growth rate of 1.6 percent, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

"When you look at times when the economy is expanding nationally, on the whole in Oregon we tend to grow at a faster pace," O'Connor said.

The construction industry grew by 6,400 jobs, or 7.4 percent; professional and business services grew by 10,200 jobs, or 4.4 percent; and other services grew by 3,400 jobs, or 5.5 percent.

In the Salem Metropolitan Statistical area, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent in November, down from 5.4 percent in October, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

The state DMV tracks the number of out-of-state licenses surrendered from applicants that move to Oregon, said David House of the DMV's Public Affairs office.

In 2015, the DMV tracked 85,114 licenses surrendered from other states and British Columbia,  District of Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, South Korea, Saskatchewan, and Yukon Territory.

License surrenders in Oregon have steadily increased in the past five years: 

2015: 85,114

2014: 75,478

2013: 68,446

2012: 62,900

2011: 59,643 


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