Clatsop County led northwest Oregon in population growth

Astoria's growth rate was hampered by a lack of buildable land, according to a recent state report.

Clatsop County was the fastest growing northwest Oregon county outside the Portland metro area last year, according to statistics from Portland State University’s Population Research Center.

The county added nearly 600 residents last year for a 1.5 percent growth rate, tied for seven-highest in the state with Multnomah, Marion and Polk counties. Most of the growth was in Warrenton and Seaside, where more land is available for development.

Most of the growth was driven by migration. Clatsop County had a net immigration between 2010 and 2016 of 978 people, compared to a natural increase — local births minus deaths — of 208, according to the population center. Oregon added 64,750 people between 2016 and last year, also driven by migration from other states.

The population center queries cities and counties on population and housing changes each year. The statistics were recently used in a report by the state Employment Department.

Regional economist Erik Knoder, author of the report, said Clatsop County’s higher growth rate makes sense given its proximity to the Portland metro area, where economic and population growth is usually the fastest.

“Often employment growth tends to increase just slightly faster than population,” Knoder said.

The 2017 population estimate for Astoria was 9,735, 260 residents more than in 2010 but a slight decline from 2016, when Astoria reached 9,770.

“There were some declines in a few retirement homes,” Charles Rynerson, a research associate at the population center, said of the slight drop. “That can fluctuate from year to year.”

Warrenton had 5,285 residents in last year’s estimates, up from 5,265 in 2016 and 5,000 in 2010. Seaside grew from 6,460 in 2016 to 6,620 last year, Cannon Beach from 1,695 to 1,705 and Gearhart from 1,465 to 1,480. Nearly 14,000 people, more than one-third of Clatsop County’s population, were living in unincorporated areas outside cities last year.

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