A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Population update: Fodder for a story

Written November 25th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

The population number on the northern I-5 off-ramp is from 2015. (Note the bike-friendly city sign.)

The people at Portland State University came out with their annual population estimates the other day.  If the report conceals startling news about Albany and other mid-valley towns, I don’t see it. But the new numbers provide fodder for a story nevertheless.

For instance, while Corvallis is still about 5,000 people bigger than Albany, both cities gained a comparable number of residents from July 2019 to July 2020 — a gain of 815 in Albany and 845 in Corvallis.

Albany has grown to 54,935, Corvallis to 59,730. (On its website, the city of Corvallis says its population number includes about 24,000 students at Oregon State University.)

By the way, the numbers from the PSU Population Research Center are always multiples of 5, a reminder that these are estimates and not counts. Also, the numbers are preliminary, subject to revision before becoming final. The full report is here.

What else is noteworthy?

Millersburg has added 235 people since 2019 for one year’s growth of nearly 9 percent, to 2,850. That percentage rate is topped only by Adair Village, which added 205 residents to reach 1,105, a jump of 22 percent.

All the communities I checked registered at least some population growth in the new estimates, but Tangent almost did not. It gained a mere five people, ending up with a population of 1,265.

Benton County had 94,665 inhabitants in July, up 305 over the year for a slim growth rate of 0.3 percent, according to the report.

Linn County gained 770 people and reached a population of 127,320. Its growth over the year was 0.6 percent, twice that of Benton.

Overall, Oregon gained 31,655 people since 2019, for a new total of 4,268,055. The number of annual births, roughly 42,000, is about 4,500 greater than the number of deaths, accounting for some of the population gain. The rest of the increase has to come from people moving in.

The question is why do they come? (hh)

On Old Salem Road, Millersburg proclaims its official population estimate of 2019.

7 responses to “Population update: Fodder for a story”

  1. Phil says:

    Albany is easily within range of being a bedroom community for Portland. There are plenty of people who would commute 3+ hours per day, if they could live in a city like this.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      For those who like to ponder such things, here’s a comparable example: Fredericksburg, VA. With its sprawling suburbs, it has about the same population as Albany and Corvallis combined, similar distance to the Big City (Washington, DC), and a fair amount of historic charm — both real and phony. Like Albany it’s growing at a reasonable rate and has a major freeway cutting through it. Housing cost is similar except that there might be more availability at the low end in the far exurbs. Politically, a little bluer in the inner city, a little redder in some suburbs than Albany.

      Advantages over Albany: It had (as of 2001, last time I visited) an excellent commuter rail system (Virginia Railway Express) which was cheap (still cheap at $12.15 one way, full fare), clean, mostly punctual, frequent service, but only runs in the busy direction, major drive times, weekdays. It was wonderful taking this to see the museums in DC. Albany’s combined intercity transit compares very poorly. Of course, that’s all pre-COVID.

      Another difference: F’burg is the heart of a large market area, more like Eugene than Albany, so you’ll find more shopping, but scattered over a large area (VA sprawl vs OR land-use planning).

      Overwhelming disadvantage: traffic to DC is supposed to be pure hell (I never tried it during busy times). Not only that, but F’burg itself is a car-dependent monstrosity. One intersection — Rt.3 at Salem Church Road — has 9 lanes of moving traffic on the former, 7 on the latter, and no crosswalk anywhere to be found (I just checked). Unbelievable. I remember crossing Rt.3 by making a fast dash just anywhere, also remember driving being very unpleasant. Rt.3 is Exhibit A in demonstrating that adding ever more traffic lanes accomplishes nothing in the long run. Bike riding is very stressful and dangerous anywhere except in the small inner city. For these reasons alone, Albany wins hands down.

      • HM says:

        Thanks for an excellent comment and please ignore those that are an exemplar of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  2. Ray Kopczynski says:

    That estimated gain is right in line with earlier reports. Extrapolate that %-gain out over the next 20 years. You think we have infrastructure “issues” now?

  3. James Engel says:

    Ya know “Howling” if you would use a true name so I’d know with whom I’m communicating I might take your comments at face value & consider them. But hiding behind a made up name to conceal yourself…. go take a long walk off a short pier. I put my name to my comments. Too bad our host allows this concealment!

    • Joan Doen says:

      Hi James. I was able to locate your address, phone number and details about you and your family with an online search. Do not worry however, I mean no harm by the acknowledgement and only mention to convey a point — one disadvantage when displaying your real name online.

  4. Scott Miller says:

    I left Portland in 85 to move to Northern California, needed to move back in 2015 to help my parents move out of their house into retirement home. Didn’t want to go back to Portland, found good employment in Albany. Only an hour+ to visit family. Love it here.


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