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Bend ‘metro area’ (Deschutes County) kept on growing during first year of pandemic; Prineville, too

U.S. Census Bureau

New Census Bureau estimates released, showing Americans on the move

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Whether you like (or love) what growth has meant to a place like Central Oregon, despise it or realize it's had its share of good and bad impacts, new U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released Thursday show the High Desert kept on growing through the first year-plus of pandemic impacts – like it or not.

The Bend Metropolitan Statistical Area – defined years ago by the agency as all of Deschutes County, from Brothers to Sisters and Terrebonne to La Pine – saw its population rise 3.3% in the year ended last July 1, to an estimated 204,801 residents, a boost of 6,548 people, the agency said (factoring in, as always, the new arrivals and departures, births and deaths).

That’s also about 1,500 more residents than Portland State University’s Population Research Center earlier estimated as the county’s population for the very same July 1, 2021 date, as the two entities use different records to figure their figures.

Then there's the nation's "micropolitan statistical areas," including cities of 10,000 to 50,000 residents and surrounding communities. Prineville is on that list, and its estimated population grew to 25,739 in 2021, up 3.27%, or 816 people, the Census Bureau said.

Nationally, more than 73% of U.S. counties experienced "natural decreases" in 2021, meaning more deaths than births, a big jump from 45.5% in 2019 and 55.5% in 2020.

"In 2021, fewer births, an aging population and increased mortality – intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic--contributed to a rise in natural decrease," the Census Bureau said in its news release looking at the latest numbers. Some counties also experienced population declines attributable to migration -- more people leaving than arriving -- though nearly two-thirds saw more arrivals than departures over the year.

In many cases, the Census Bureau said there was a shift from larger, more populous counties to medium-sized and smaller ones, which helped bring more people to places they wanted to live, when they shifted to remote work and thus could work from anywhere -- so-called "Zoom towns," as Bend has been called.

The Associated Press said the new data showed that "the pandemic intensified population trends of migration to the South and West, as well as a slowdown in growth in the biggest cities in the U.S." New York, for example, lost 328,000 residents.

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.



  1. Life expectancy is down due to a flu like virus. It’s amazing to me that people that think they are smart deny reality until it hits them in the face. Too bad a president that played with monkeys was forced to remove a law that spreads fake news in 1986.

  2. Look where the majority of green is. Red states. People flee failing high tax, pro CRT, high crime, high gas price states for more freedom. The problem is liberalism is a disease. It infects, destroys its host, then once the host is dead ie California, the virus must move on to a new host to survive. Bend is a perfect example of that new host. Bend will be destroyed in 15-20yrs.

    1. Bend is terminal with fast spreading Cancerifonians. The disease is spreading eastward. Unfortunately, there’s no vaccine for it but it will eventually run out of hosts.

    2. Don’t waste another minute, shivering under your bed. You had best start packin’ up and head for Kentucky or some other red state paradise, ASAP. They have free gasoline there and they know how to keep them uppity ones in their place. They’ll learn you kids right. Have a nice trip.

      1. half of your city council refuses to stand for the national anthem, the school board is pro crt and 1619 project with one of them pro Angela Davis. The ship is sinking

  3. ……….did y’all notice it’s never Conservatives moving to blue states but rather Libs invading Red states to escape the issues they created & voted for??

    1. Yeah God forbid we have a group that stands up for their rights huh? We all know it isn’t our elected leaders even though that’s their job.

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