How Portland's racial demographics have changed
The Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population saw the biggest percentage increase compared to other racial or ethnic groups between 2000 and 2022 in the Portland area — rising 168% to 16,500 — per a new analysis of Census estimates.
- The metro area's multiracial population also more than doubled in that time period, along with the Hispanic and Asian populations.
Why it matters: This kind of demographic data is a vital snapshot of how the area's racial and ethnic makeup is changing over time, helping to inform policies and programs across the region.
- While white people still make up the vast majority of the Portland area, that population saw the lowest percentage increase over the past 22 years.
Quick take: The growth in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations parallels cultural and political advances, like the expansion of Aloha Days in Vancouver.
- The Oregon Legislature also approved a new statewide effort this year to help Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders succeed in school, similar to what was already in place for some other ethnic groups.
By the numbers: The number of people in the metro area identifying as two or more races grew 157% between 2000 and 2022, to nearly 120,000.
- The Hispanic population — of any race — grew about 131% in the same period, to over 330,000.
- And the Asian population grew just over 117%, to nearly 200,000.
What they're saying: Marchel Marcos, who grew up in Hawaii and is now political director of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, tells Axios many Pacific Islanders first come here for college.
- "The universities in Oregon do heavy football and academic recruitment in Hawaii," Marcos told Axios, saying that many college students "decide to stay here."
- The cost of living also plays a role. "Even though folks that have been here a while are talking about how much it's increased, it's significantly lower than the cost of living in Hawaii," she said.
The big picture: Nationwide, the country's Pacific Islander, Asian and Hispanic populations also saw the biggest percentage increases between 2000 and 2022.
Of note: The U.S. is still predominantly white, with growth of 19% between 2000 and 2022, to nearly 252 million.
Meanwhile: The country is also rapidly aging, Axios' Emily Peck recently reported, with the median age reaching a record 38.9 last year.
- Oregon's median age is higher — 40.3 — and we're now the oldest continental U.S. state west of the Mississippi.
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