By most measures, downtown Portland has been slower to recover from COVID-19 than many other metro areas.
Cellphone data analyzed by the University of Toronto (criticized by some for defining Portland’s downtown too narrowly) showed that Stumptown was a laggard. Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released data showing that Multnomah County lost 8,294 residents in 2022, cutting the population to 795,083. Though small, any loss is a big deal in a town that once grew faster than the line at Salt & Straw on a Sunday in August.
Now, there is more census data that might explain why downtown still feels empty.
The Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro metro area (that’s a census designation) ranked 10th in terms of people working from home in 2022, with 23.3% favoring a laptop and pajamas in the den over a commute to the old office, according to Bloomberg News, which reported on the data this week.
That figure is down from 27.5% in 2021, mirroring a national trend of going back to the office, albeit slowly. And Portland is still far above the U.S. average: 15.2% in 2022, down from 17.9% in 2021.
The top work-from-home locale in both 2021 and 2022? Boulder, Colo., at 36.3% and 32%, respectively. But working from home was a thing in Boulder before the pandemic. It topped the list at 13.7% in 2019, when Portland didn’t even make the top 25.