Multnomah County lost population in the year ended July 1, 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau said in its annual report on county-level changes, marking just the fourth decline in four decades.
The county’s population stood at 795,083 on July 1, 2022, down 1.3% from 805,593 a year earlier. Multnomah’s population fell by about the same amount in 2021.
Many urban counties lost population during the pandemic as remote work allowed people to keep jobs in cities but live in the country. Now, “overall patterns of population growth and decline are moving towards pre-pandemic rates for the nation’s 3,144 counties,” the Census Bureau said. Cities that saw steep declines in 2021, such as Seattle and San Francisco, saw more modest declines in 2022—and New York City actually gained population.
Multnomah County, home to Portland, never saw an exodus at the scale of those three metros. But its population loss continued at the same pace as the previous year.
The back-to-back declines in Multnomah County coincide with rising crime and rising taxes, though population experts are quick to say that the causes of such declines are difficult to determine. WW dug into the phenomenon in February.
Multnomah County’s population has fallen just four times since 1984, according to data from Portland State University’s Population Research Center.
Nationally, more than half of all counties—52.5%—grew between 2021 and 2022, down from 55.7% of counties the prior year, the Census Bureau said. At the same time, 47.1% declined and 11 counties (0.3%) saw no change.
Oregon’s population also fell in the year ended July 1, 2022, dropping to 4,240,137 from 4,256,301, a decline of 16,164. Multnomah County alone lost 10,510.