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More people moving out of Portland than moving in, data shows

An analysis by the Portland Business Journal found the population of the metro area rose just 0.1% between 2020 and 2021. That's much lower than in years past.

PORTLAND, Ore. — New data confirms what some Portlanders already know: the Rose City doesn't seem to have the kind of draw it once did, with fewer people moving in, as many move out. 

KGW's news partner, the Portland Business Journal, found that the population of the Portland metro area went up by just 0.1% between 2020 and 2021 — much lower than in years past. When it comes to Multnomah County, it's seen a net loss in people, especially higher income earners. 

The journal's analysis of data from the IRS showed that most people who left Multnomah County between 2019 and 2020 went to Clackamas County, then to Washington County, and thirdly, across the Columbia River to Clark County. Many high-earning residents relocated to Deschutes County. Numbers also show many people left Multnomah County for California, Arizona and Texas.

OTHER STORIES: These Oregon cities had the most growth over the last five years

During that time, Multnomah County lost nearly 2,000 tax filers. Those moving out tended to make far more money than newcomers. 

Despite the data, not everyone is leaving or planning to move. KGW spoke with a few Multnomah County residents who plan on sticking around, but understand why some might choose to leave and go elsewhere. 

"I'm not really surprised. It's gotten really expensive to live here," said Paul Faber. "And then, of course, all the break-ins and thefts. People have had it."

"Things have obviously changed," said Nicole Koffler. "It's been a really significant impact of what we love about Oregon, or specifically, about Portland."

Katie Spurlock, a real estate agent with 20 years experience, weighed in on what she has seen over the last couple of years. 

"Within the last few years, we've seen a huge exodus out of Multnomah County and even an exodus out of the state," Spurlock said. "Our numbers are still climbing, but at a much slower rate than [what] we were experiencing certainly back in the mid, early 2000s."

She attributed this to several things, including families reevaluating their priorities and space during the pandemic, to high taxes, trash and crime.

"I was so proud of Portland," Spurlock said. "It's like the sleepy town we grew up in all of the sudden is bustling and it's really made a name for itself. And yeah, it's a little embarrassing as it is right now, but it has to come back. It just has to."

OTHER STORIES: Report: After years of steady growth, Portland at an urgent 'economic crossroads'

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