PDX Demographics and Rankings

By David Krogh

This is a short look at changing Portland demographics and selected rankings of Portland, with a focus where data regarding SE is available.  

Latest estimates from the US Census Factfinder for 2018, Portland’s city population is 653,115 with a metro statistical area population of 2,478,810.  

East Portland (including SE) is the largest specific area of the City (as identified by the Portland Plan) and contains the largest population at roughly 160,000 plus.

Until the next US Census in 2020, specific demographic data including ethnicity, age, earnings and other census data is either not available or strictly limited in scale by various sources and their estimates.  

Portland has been identified as the “whitest large city in the country” by The Atlantic.  World Population Review estimates Portland’s White population is slightly over seventy-seven percent of the total, with Asians at seven+percent and Blacks at five+ percent. 

SW Portland has the highest concentration of Whites with SE in second place, followed by NE. The highest concentration of Blacks is in North and NW, and Asians are more heavily concentrated in portions of East, NE and SE.

Here in SE, the White population ranges (depending upon individual neighborhoods) from roughly seventy-five to eighty-six percent of the total of all residents. 

For Blacks, the range is about less than one percent and Asians from three to eight percent. (Note:  Hispanics were included with the White data values per the data source.)  

East Portland (including SE) is experiencing considerable in-migration largely due to substantial apartment construction, a stabilization of apartment pricing, on street parking availability and transit access.  

Various sources, especially Wikipedia, have pointed a finger at gentrification as the primary cause of higher housing prices, lack of affordable housing, displacement of many low income residents, loss of diversity, and both racial and financial inequities.  

Since the City Council has largely pushed gentrification, it is hoped they will attempt to better analyze the impacts and take stronger actions to alleviate them.  

Until gentrification and housing prices are better addressed, several sources have indicated that much of the immigration will trend towards those new residents with above average income levels.

Other tidbits of information and rankings regarding Portland as a whole include:

• Portland ranks twenty-fifth in the nation in terms of city metropolitan population according to several sources

• Portland is consistently on many top twenty lists nationwide for worst commute times

• Traffic congestion in Portland ranks in the top ten  worst says Inrix

• Portland is in the top twenty for “fun” US cities to visit according to msn.com and other websites

• Portland is the only large city in America to have a “commission form of government”

• The city was named as a result of a coin flip. (It was almost named Boston.)

• Portland was nicknamed “Stumptown” because of all the stumps left from logging for building development

• City vehicles started carrying the logo The City That Works (coined by Mayor Vera Katz) after the media caught several City work crews “hiding” on the job (c. 1995)

• The slogan “Keep Portland Weird” was copied from a similar slogan promoting businesses in Austin, Texas in 2003

• Forty-two percent of Portland’s population is unaffiliated with a religion and only twenty-nine+percent identify with a specific religion, making Portland the most nonreligious city in the country according to the Public Religion Research Institute. 

• US News/Real Estate includes Portland in its top twenty-five places to live because of such factors as consistent population growth and strong job market

• Portland is the most dangerous city in Oregon per KATU based on recent crime data

• Portland is in the top ten of the most liberal cities in the US according to Briggs

• Portland is in Ranker.com’s top ten cities with the largest percentage of homelessness

• And in the top twenty of cities with the highest cost of living at thirty-one percent above the national average according to Kiplinger.com

• Portland had 11,000 new apartment units under construction as of September of 2018, more than has occurred at any other time according to Per CoStar. Willamette Week, says however, rents are expected to stabilize but not necessarily be reduced even with the increased supply of units. This is because in-migration exceeds the new supply

• Portland’s current neighborhood organization has been looked at as a positive example for other cities in the US since its formal establishment in 1974.

• Oregon (including Portland) ranks first in the nation for marijuana use according to the 2016-17 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

• More than half of Portland renters are “cost burdened” meaning more than thirty percent of their earnings goes towards housing according to The Oregonian

• Oregon workforce census data indicates that Portland was the nations’ eighth wealthiest city in 2018 with a median household income in excess of $73,000 (increasing by thirty-four between 2005 and 2018 largely due to in-migration) 

PDX Demographics and Rankings

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