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Most new jobs will be outside Portland, forecast shows

Source: Metro, Portland State UniversityFor many years, Multnomah County had the two largest residential and employment centers in the region, Portland and Gresham.

Although Portland was much larger than Gresham, they both had more residents and more jobs than any other city in Multnomah, Washington or Clackamas counties. That helped justify opening the first MAX line in the region to connect them.

That dynamic began to shift in 1979 when Intel opened its first factory in Hillsboro, accelerating what had already been the growing high tech employment cluster known as the Silicon Forest in Washington County. TriMet opened the region’s second MAX line between Portland and Hillsboro in 1998, providing transit service to Intel’s large Ronler Acres campus, which helped push Hillsboro and two other Washington County cities, Beaverton and Tigard, past Gresham as the next largest employment centers behind Portland.

That trend will continue thorough the next 24 years, according to a new employment forecast being finalized by Metro, the elected regional government. It predicts that although Portland will easily remain the largest employment center in the region, more new jobs will be created outside Multnomah County by 2040 — and most of those will be created in Washington County.

According to the projections that will be considered by the Metro Council in September:

• Only 125,125 of the 378,752 new jobs to be created in the tri-county region by 2040 will be created in Portland.

• Five of the 10 cities with the most new jobs will be in Washington County, including the western portion of Wilsonville.

• A disproportionate number of new jobs will be created in cites that many consider to be suburbs today, including Beaverton, Tigard and Tualatin in Washington County, Troutdale in Multnomah County, and Happy Valley in Clackamas County, where the number of jobs will more than triple by 2040.

• Many of the new jobs will be created on land that is currently unincorporated or outside the urban growth boundary administered by Metro today.

The projections support TriMet’s current effort to increase transit service to cities outside Portland, including more direct connections between outlying cities. The agency has developed Service Enhancement Plans for five subregions, including the Westside, the Eastside, Southwest, Southeast, and North/Central. One of the first new bus lines in years connects Tualatin and Sherwood in Washington County, running through an employment-heavy industrial area between the two cities. It began operating in June.

The projections also support the new MAX line being proposed between Portland and Tualatin through Tigard as part of the Southwest Corridor Project. In a “reverse commute,” Portland residents could use it to reach the 29,132 new jobs predicted to be created in those two Washington County cities.

“With much of the growth focused outside downtown Portland and expanding into the suburbs, the planned Southwest Corridor Light Rail Transit project will ease congestion in one of the most constrained corridors while keeping our region moving,” says TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane. “Along with our long-range plans to expand bus service, we’ll deliver more bus and MAX service that will go a long way to connect people to jobs, school and other opportunities as the community grows.”

The projections are being finalized in a process that always follows the periodic decisions by the Metro Council over expanding the urban growth boundary it administers where development can occur. Work on them began after the council voted not to expand the boundary last year.

The projections are based on the current comprehensive plans that have been adopted by all jurisdictions, as required by state land use planning laws. They largely determined where more people will move and where new employment centers will be located. Some of the areas are currently within the urban growth boundary but unincorporated. Others are outside the boundary but are expected to be added though modest expansions through a process currently being negotiated by Metro President Tom Hughes and number of mayors in the region.

The employment projections show some disparities with population projections that Metro is also preparing. For example, although Portland and Hillsboro are both predicted to gain the most new residents and jobs, the rest of the rankings for the top 10 cities differ after that. Among others things, while Forest Grove and Cornelius are among the top 10 cities predicted to gain more residents, they are not in the top 10 job-producing cities. The situation is just the opposite for Tualatin.

The projections are scheduled to be updated in 2018, three years earlier than usual. Although Metro traditionally considers urban growth boundary expansions every six year, the council agreed to conduct the next review sooner because of questions about how fast the region is actually growing, now that the economy has officially recovered from the Great Recession.

To learn more

To see all the projections, visit weena.me/L.

To see a previous Portland Tribune story on the population projections, visit tinyurl.com/zthjejv.