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Forest Grove, Cornelius see mass commuter exodus

In Hillsboro, the picture reverses, with far more workers commuting in

U.S. CENSUS BUREAU - In these graphics, the darkest green color represents people who worked in the target area but lived outside it. The lightest green color represents the opposite--people who lived in Forest Grove but worked outside. The medium green shows how many people both lived and worked in Forest Grove. So the graphic above shows that in 2014, only 1,433 people both lived and worked in Forest Grove. About five times as many lived in the city but commuted to work elsewhere, while 3.5 times as many commuted to work here from homes outside the city.Fresh off the Labor Day holiday, it’s worth taking a different sort of look at job growth, which is one of the biggest measures of the health of our country’s economy.

The usual focus is on how many people are employed. For instance, the U.S. added just 151,000 non-farm payrolls (jobs) for the month of August 2016. Economists were expecting a gain of 180,000. The 151,000 number

was considered below average, which suggests the Treasury will hold off raising interest rates for another month.

Yet it’s also worth looking at where people are employed — a detail that affects traffic, business and people’s family lives.

The Census Bureau estimated that in 2014, 8,887 Forest Grove residents had some sort of primary job. Of those, 7,454 (84 percent) traveled outside the city to go to work, leaving only 1,433 (16 percent) who both lived and worked in the city.

By contrast, 4,896 people lived elsewhere but traveled into Forest Grove for their jobs.

Those trends increase in Cornelius, where 4,741 residents had a primary job of some sort. Of those 4,446 (94 percent) traveled outside the city to go to work while only 295 (6 percent) stayed in the city.

Meanwhile, 2,034 outsiders traveled to Cornelius to work.

That doesn’t mean all these commuters were driving to or from Portland. Many likely lived or worked in the nearby cities or unincorporated areas that make up western Washington County.

U.S. CENSUS BUREAU - The larger, lightest-green area on Forest Grove's graphic shows how many more residents (84 percent) commuted away from the city to work elsewhere in 2014, compared to the 16 percent (medium green) who have jobs in the city. By contrast, the number of outsiders commuting in to jobs in Forest Grove (the dark-green area) is much smaller.U.S. CENSUS BUREAU - Hillsboro's commuting picture was the opposite of Forest Grove's in 2014, with those workers commuting into the city from outside (dark green) far outnumbering those workers who commuted away from Hillsboro to work elsewhere (lightest green).The primary commuting direction is reversed in Hillsboro, where 41,821 residents had a primary job in 2014. Of those only 27,982 (67 percent) traveled outside the city to go to work, while 13,839 (33 percent) both lived and worked in the city.

At the same time, 52,745 workers commuted to their Hillsboro jobs from outside the city — nearly twice as many as residents heading away from the city to work.

That trend is even stronger in Portland, where roughly 265,000 residents had a primary job in 2014. Of those, only 104,000 (39 percent) traveled outside the Rose City to go to work.

By contrast, 234,000 non-city dwellers came to Portland for their jobs. So over twice as many were heading into Portland to work as commute the other way.

That’s a lot of back and forth, and it explains why Highway 26 West, I-5 and I-84 can be at a standstill any time of day.

Beaverton presents yet a different picture. In 2014, there were 42,000 Beaverton residents who had a primary job of some sort. Of those, about 34,000, or 81 percent — almost as high as Forest Grove’s percentage — traveled outside Beaverton to go to work. But unlike Forest Grove, many more non-city dwellers (55,000) came to Beaverton for their jobs.

See these and more statistics for different cities on the U.S. Census Bureau’s free site at http://onthemap.ces.census.gov.

Jill Rehkopf Smith contributed to this story.