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Deschutes County growth rate tops West Coast


After some tumultuous times for the local and national economy, Deschutes County — known to the Census Bureau as the Bend “metro area” — is back in a familiar spot, when it comes to population growth — fastest in Oregon and, in fact, fastest of the entire West Coast.

New estimates released Thursday show the county grew by about 4,000 residents in the year ended last July 1, to 165,594 people, up just over 2.5 percent. That’s nearly twice as fast as No. 2 on Oregon’s list — Washington County, at 1.36 percent.

That’s also a faster Deschutes County growth rate than Portland State University estimated last fall for the same time frame, as it only estimated 1.5 percent growth in its calculations, and a lower tally for July 1, 2013 of 162,525 residents.

Oregon as a whole added about 30,000 residents over the year, for a 3.93 million Census Bureau estimate, up just under 1 percent.

Crook County, at 20,815 residents, grew about that fast (up .72 percent), the feds said, but Jefferson County saw a bit slower growth, up .53 percent, to 21,145 residents estimated as of last summer.

For the three-year-plus period since the April 1, 2010 Census — the once-a-decade head count — Deschutes County’s population is estimated to have grown 5.21 percent, again tops in the state, and again about double the statewide figure of 2.58 percent.

But the three-year estimates weren’t so great for the region’s two less-populous counties, as the Census Bureau estimated both actually lost population — .78 percent for Crook County and down 2.65 percent in Jefferson County — possibly as those hit by the economic downturn left for better prospects elsewhere.

In fact, a glance at the Census Bureau’s color-coded maps finds Deschutes County was the fastest-growing county on the West Coast for the year.

“Some people just think population growth has stalled in Deschutes County,” said Damian Syrnyk, Bend senior planner and long-time population researcher.

Indeed, he said, “It’s slower than it was when compared to our growth rates in the previous decade, but when compared to other counties in the Oregon, we’re the fastest growing on a percentage basis.”

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