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Columbia County is home to more than 50,000

Growth rate trails state average, rate in tri-county area

Photo Credit: MARK MILLER - New home construction in southwest Scappoose. The southernmost city in Columbia County, Scappoose did not add population from 2013 to 2014, according to preliminary estimates from the Population Research Center. However, development is ongoing in parts of the city.Preliminary population estimates for 2014 released Tuesday, Nov. 18, by Portland State University’s Population Research Center show Columbia County cresting 50,000 residents for the first time.

However, the county’s rate of population growth from July 1, 2013, to July 1, 2014, is actually well below that of other counties in the region, at just 0.5 percent — an estimated 225 people. Almost half of that growth was attributed to St. Helens.

The county had 50,075 residents as of July 1, according to the preliminary estimates. Its growth rate trailed counties in the three-county Metro area; Clackamas County came in at 1.4 percent, Multnomah County had 1.2 percent growth, and Washington County saw 1.7 percent growth.

In Columbia County, Scappoose held steady at 6,700 people. However, St. Helens jumped from 12,895 people in the 2013 population estimates to 12,990 in the new numbers, more than erasing the 25-person decrease reported from 2012 to 2013.

The population of Columbia City remained unchanged at 1,945 in the new estimates, as did the populations of Vernonia and Prescott.

Rainier and Clatskanie both added five people, according to the estimates, which are rounded to the nearest five.

The highest population growth rate in the state was in Deschutes County, with 2.4 percent growth from 2013 to 2014, the estimates indicate. The largest reported increase in the number of people came in Multnomah County, the most populous county in Oregon, which added 9,245 residents.

In only one county, sparsely populated Grant County, was a net decrease in population reported; the county lost 10 of the 7,435 residents estimated in 2013, according to the new numbers.

According to researchers, population growth in Oregon is due to not only natural increase, but also net migration, which reportedly accounted for 74 percent of the growth from 2013 to 2014 statewide.

“As the economy continues to improve, net migration in Oregon increases,” said Risa Proehl, manager of the Population Research Center, in a statement. “This is not a new phenomenon.”

The Oregon Employment Department delivered welcome news for the state’s economy on Tuesday, reporting a net gain of 9,900 jobs in Oregon last month — the largest monthly increase in state payrolls since August 1995, it said.

The Population Research Center also said population growth in cities accounted for 60 percent of Oregon’s estimated increase in residents over the course of the year.

The state population is estimated to have increased by 43,545, up to more than 3.96 million. That is a 1.1 percent increase from 2013.

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