PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon's best known and largest city grew 5% between 2016 and 2021, slightly more than the state overall at 4.7%.
However, Portland's population declined slightly at the end of that five-year span, falling by 0.9% in 2021 to 658,773, according to certified estimates as of July 1, prepared by Portland State University's Population Research Center.
Migration toward the suburbs and so-called "Zoom towns" may have contributed to slowing growth in the urban center recently. Oregon cities with 5,000 or more residents in 2021 that enjoyed the most growth of late were led by Estacada, King City, Happy Valley, Redmond and Madras, which all grew by 23% or more since 2016.
See statewide population growth numbers at the Portland Business Journal
Nestled in the woods along the Clackamas River, Estacada lies just a 45-minute drive from downtown Portland, within striking distance for commuters to the city, especially infrequent ones. It grew by an astounding 58.9% from 3,155 in 2016 to 5,014 in 2021, just barely breaking into the 5,000-plus club.
King City, even closer to Portland in Washington County, was established as a planned community for adults 50 years and older by the Tualatin Development Co. in the late 1960s. As Oregon's population continues to age, communities attracting retirees could expand. King City did so by 46.9% between 2016 and 2021, reaching a population of 5,184.
It's the end of an era for Happy Valley. This suburban juggernaut in Clackamas County has had a humongous growth steak, topping the Business Journal's list of the fastest-growing Oregon cities since 2008. Its population nearly doubled in a decade from 14,330 in 2011 to 25,738 last year.
Central Oregon is a haven for Zoom towns, where Redmond and Madras are more affordable options in the vicinity of Bend, which grew from 76,925 in 2011 to 100,922 last year. This growth has priced out many of those drawn to the area, as reporter Jonathan Bach wrote about last May.
Only four cities of 5,000 or more residents lost population in the past five years. The southern Oregon town of Talent dropped by 9% due to a tragic wildfire in the fall of 2020. Coos Bay on the Southern Coast, La Grande in eastern Oregon and Corvallis in the mid-Willamette Valley also declined by 3.7%, 1.1% and 0.9%, respectively.