2023 Rogue Valley Population Estimates Show Mixed County Trends

by Guy Tauer

January 9, 2024

Newly released estimates from Portland State University’s Population Research Center show the Rogue Valley continuing to lose residents through July 1, 2023, as we did in the year ending July 1, 2022, but at a slower pace of loss than the prior year. This estimated population loss is reversing the trend of steadily recovering population growth rates in the decade after the Great Recession.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that Jackson County’s population in the 2020 Census was 223,259, an increase of 20,053 residents and up by 9.9% from the 2010 Census. This was very close to the PSU intercensal figures for Jackson County published in their 2020 Population Report. In Josephine County, the 2020 Census put the county’s population at 88,090 which was about 1,500 more than the Portland State University estimates showed for that year, based on the 2010 Census, and estimating each year’s population over the following decade. The most accurate population numbers resulting from the decennial census are published once a decade. The U.S. Census Bureau also releases population estimates for years between the decennial census, most recently with the 2023 population estimates for states – county-level estimates will be released in March 2024.

Jackson County’s population growth rate lagged the statewide trend since 2020. In 2021, the state’s population grew by 0.5% while Jackson County’s population increased by 0.3%. In 2022, Oregon’s population was barely up a scant 0.1% whereas Jackson County population declined by 0.6% or 1,259 residents. The losses for the county continued in 2023 with a small decrease of 0.1% or 187 residents. The state’s population rose by 0.5% in 2023, an increase of 21,996 residents. Josephine County’s population change from 2020 to 2021 was 0.7%, increasing by 637. There was essentially no change in 2022, up by an estimated 26 residents. The county’s population decreased slightly in 2023, down 0.7% percent, losing 53 residents.

Cities and Towns

Most city areas showed either essentially no change or growth between 2022 and 2023 in the Rogue Valley. Medford, however, gained an estimated 2,610 new residents, and Central Point added 120. The cities of Phoenix (+134) and Talent (+59) continued their recovery from the devastating Almeda fire in September 2020.
Table showing Rogue Valley Population, 2022-2023

Over in Josephine County, Grants Pass had an estimated 0.5% increase, or 184 new residents. Cave Junction, the only other incorporated city in Josephine County, was little changed and had a population of 2,163. If you are wondering about other smaller communities – Wonder, O’Brien, Selma, or White City, for example – the Portland State University estimates only cover incorporated cities and towns. You would need to use Census Bureau estimates from the decennial census or the American Community Survey.

Population trends and growth rates have mirrored the overall economic improvement that Oregon and the Rogue Valley have experienced in the period after the Great Recession and before the COVID pandemic. In-migration has been the driver of the Rogue Valley’s population change in recent years. Factors that may slow the growth rate could be rising home and rental prices, lack of housing availability and low vacancy rates, and the growing trend toward slower overall migration and staying in homes longer as interest rates on home mortgages have soared past their generational lows. Also, the impact of the devastating Almeda fire especially on the communities of Phoenix and Talent may still be felt for years to come.

Much more detail will be available when Portland State University’s Population Research Center releases their annual population report for 2023 a bit later, such as population by age and components of population change. For more information, see https://www.pdx.edu/prc/home.

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