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City of Bend tops 100K residents (again); Deschutes County powers past 200K, Crook past 25K

(Update: Estimates released)

How can Bend add 2x as many residents as Deschutes County? And La Pine jump 32% in a year? Call it a 2020 census reset

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Bend is officially a city of 100,000 – once again, after falling shy in a pair of previous head counts and dueling estimates.

Portland State University’s Population Research Center released their July 1, 2021 population estimates (Excel spreadsheet) late Tuesday, the first to factor in a full year of pandemic-related impacts.

And like the U.S. Census Bureau’s July 1, 2019 estimate, PSU now agrees that Bend is a city of over 100,000 – 100,922, to be precise, as of July 1 of this year.

That’s up a whopping 8,082 people, or 8.7% from their year-ago figure of 92,840.

But hold on.

The April 1, 2020 once-a-decade census head count – which was finally released in August of this year, due to pandemic-related delays – pegged Bend at 99,178 residents, more than 6,300 higher than PSU’s year-ago estimate of the city’s population as of July 1, 2020, just three months later.


Estimates are just that, estimates. So the Census Bureau's once-a-decade actual head count is something of a reset for demographers who study such things and use population figures not just for tax or funding distribution but a whole of other rankings and studies..

City of Bend Senior Planner Damian Syrnyk said a more reliable comparison is that Bend has grown by 1,814 residents between April 2020 and this July. Syrnyk said he expects PSU to revise their 2020 estimates to reflect the 2020 census baseline.

Meanwhile, PSU estimates that Oregon’s population barely grew in the past year, adding 22,769 residents to 4,266,570, up only .54 of a percent.

But Deschutes County also powered past a milestone of 200,000, adding 4,131 residents for a July 1 estimate of 203,390, up 2.07% in a year.

That’s not the region’s fastest growth – that’s Crook County, which has now topped the 25,000 mark. It added 616 residents for a new estimated population of 25,482, up 2.48% from a year ago. Jefferson County isn’t far behind, adding 336 residents, for a total population of 24,889, growth of 1.37% in the past year.

The state’s fastest-growing county? That’d be Morrow County, one of its smallest, which added 418 residents to reach 12,635 – up 3.42% in a year.

That head count realignment also makes for some other dramatic increases among Central Oregon cities, foremost among them La Pine, with a new PSU estimate of 2,654 residents, up 649 people, or more than 32% from a year ago.

Redmond, PSU says, has added 3,907 people, or more than 12% in a year, to a total estimate of 36,122 residents.

Prineville's new population estimate of 11,042 residents is a 687-person increase, or 6.6%. Madras has a new estimated population of 7,717, a more than 19% jump, or 1,247 people from PSU's year-ago estimate.

As for the High Desert's smaller towns, Culver's new estimate of 1,636 residents is up 66 people, or 4.2%. And Metolius had a big revision, to 981 residents, 165 more people, or almost 19%

In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Bend had topped the 100,000 mark, but last year's official April 1, 2020 official head count showed the city was just shy of that milestone, at 99,178 residents.

And a year ago, PSU's Population Research Center actually showed an even lower figure: a July 1, 2020 population estimate for Bend of 92,840.

The two entities use a different mix of statistics to come up with their estimates, from housing starts to the number of births vs. deaths. But the official census head count resets the numbers for both organizations, moving forward.

Syrnyk added that despite the pandemic, Bend's population growth has remained fairly consistent, as measured by building permits and other measurements of new arrivals.

"Our growth has not slowed, given the pandemic," Syrnyk said. "It hasn't gotten necessarily faster than we might have expected, but it's continued to be steady." 

But if PSU's numbers had shown, say, 105,000 or more Bend residents, Syrnyk said that might be a bit too fast for city planners to plan for.

"If their estimate comes out to, say, 105,000, that would be a little concerning," Syrnyk said. "That's a little bit faster than what we predicted, and I think most recently from what PSU also forecasted, so that would definitely catch our attention."

Syrnyk says this year's numbers are important for the city as it prepares for the future.

"So everything from housing, looking at our next round of job forecasting, then that also helps inform our next round of infrastructure planning for our water system and sewer system," Syrnyk said. "And you know, the next two, years when we start looking at updating our transportation system plan." 

The population figures are about more than just bragging rights. Cities and counties get 30 days to challenge them, if they believe there are discrepancies or errors, before the estimates become final, helping to dictate how government tax revenues and other funds are distributed.

Article Topic Follows: Bend
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Barney Lerten

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Alec Nolan

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