The ’Couv Is Kicking Stumptown’s Butt on Economic Stuff

Vancouver is the place to be, and we don’t mean B.C.

Which of the following are true, according to a new report from the Portland Business Alliance:

—Clark County, home to Vancouver, Wash., was the only county in the Portland metro area that saw meaningful in-migration in 2021.

—Multnomah County lost the most population out of the four Portland metro counties in 2021.

—Multnomah County lost $117 million in income to Clark County between 2019 and 2020.

If you said all three, you’d be right. This year’s State of the Economy report from the Portland Business Alliance reads like a love letter to Vancouver, the once-sleepy city across the Columbia River.

The report even has a handy tax study that shows how a hand-tool manufacturer and an engineering firm, say, would have lower taxes in Vancouver. Only a food manufacturer would do better in PDX, the PBA analysis showed.

Portland is unique among cities because residents can lower their income tax bills to zero by moving across a bridge. They can come back to Portland to shop and pay zero sales tax, too. With both taxes and crime rising in Portland, the move is becoming more enticing to some Stumptowners, as WW reported earlier this month.

“No other place in the country has such widely varying methods of taxation within a single commuting area as the Portland region,” the PBA wrote. “And recent years have seen an abrupt expansion of services and taxes on the Oregon side of the border.”

After regional tax increases to combat homelessness and provide preschool for all, Portland now has the second-highest total state and local income tax rate in the nation—14.69%—exceeded only by New York City at 14.78%, according to a report from Ernst & Young commissioned by Oregon Business & Industry.

Many tax experts, like those at the Oregon Center for Public Policy, will tell you that people don’t move just to pay lower taxes. With taxes rising, and crime along with it, Portland may test that hypothesis.

And now Vancouver has a cool new waterfront with condos that beckon Portland refugees. All it needs now is Ken’s Artisan Pizza, Forest Park and an NBA team.

Give them time.

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