Oregon's natural population growth in 2017 was the lowest since the state began keeping records in 1960.

There were 7,900 more births than deaths, according to new figures compiled by the Portland State University Population Research Center.

"The low natural increase is caused by an increase of the number of deaths (36,800), which was the highest since 1960," wrote state Employment Department economist Felicia Bechtoldt in analysis of the new data. "Since 2011, Oregon had a relatively low natural increase relative to the prior four decades."

While the natural increase in population has dipped, in-migration from other states last year was 56,800, the highest number since 1991.

"Over the past 20 years, Oregon had an average net migration of 27,800 people per year," Bechtoldt wrote. "The lowest number of net migrants over the last 20 years was 7,000 in 2010. In general, we see net migrants increase as the economy expands and more jobs become available."

Not surprisingly, most of the population growth was in the metro area—part of the reason the housing market has been and continues to be so tight.

One bleak sign for rural Oregon: between 2010 and 2017, 16 counties, Josephine, Douglas, Coos, Curry, Lincoln, Tillamook, Crook, Baker, Wallowa, Lake, Wheeler, Wasco, Gilliam, and Sherman, recorded more deaths than births.

"The average share of the population 65 and over in these 16 counties was 27 percent compared with the 17 percent share for the state as a whole," Bethtoldt wrote. "The disproportionate share of people 65 and over in the 16 counties was a major factor in their natural population decrease."