HERMISTON — Hermiston continues to expand its lead as Eastern Oregon’s largest city, adding an estimated 360 new residents between July 2019 and July 2020, according to data released by Portland State University’s Population Research Center.
The center released its preliminary estimates for the year on Nov. 15. They showed Umatilla County as a whole gained an estimated 335 people, bumping the population up to about 81,495 residents.
Pendleton gained five residents, putting Hermiston at an estimated 18,775 and Pendleton at 17,025.
As Hermiston’s population has grown, its housing stock has too. According to a news release from the city of Hermiston, the city issued permits for 83 new homes inside city limits in 2020 through the end of October. Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan said the city has worked to promote additional housing development in several ways, including investing in a new water tower and other infrastructure to bring down the cost of developing housing in the northeast part of the city.
“Hermiston, Umatilla, and Stanfield can really all be thought of as neighborhoods in a larger west-end real estate market,” he said in a statement. “Our hope with these targeted public investments was certainly to drive housing in northeast Hermiston, but also to allow private developers to negotiate better prices for land region-wide.”
Other Umatilla County cities also grew, according to PSU’s estimates. Umatilla added 135 residents for a total of 7,605. Milton-Freewater added 65 residents for 7,210. Stanfield added 35 residents for a total of 2,280. Echo added 10 residents for a total of 720, while Weston, Athena and Adams stayed at 2019 estimates.
In Morrow County, Boardman added 75 for a total of 4,580 and Irrigon added 10 for a total of 2,040. Heppner stayed the same at 1,275. Morrow County as a whole grew by an estimated 145 residents, up to 12,825.
In Hermiston, Morgan said just two of the housing developers the city is currently working with represent about 350 planned new homes for Hermiston over the next few years. He suggested a few reasons for Hermiston’s continued housing growth, including “expansive work in 2017 through 2019 to actively build a deeper bench of housing developments just waiting for the right conditions to pull the trigger.” Historically low interest rates have helped pull that trigger, he said.
Morgan also referenced the area’s comparatively quick rebound in unemployment rates from the unprecedented spike in the spring. According to the news release, Umatilla County’s unemployment rate spiked to 13.9% in April 2020, but fell back to just 6.2% by September,
Portland State University’s Population Research Center is the lead agency for the Oregon State Data Center, a state-level partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau. The PSU center creates detailed annual population estimates by analyzing birth records, death records, driver’s licenses, school enrollment, Medicare enrollment, voter registrations and other records. The center also provides population projections to help government agencies plan for future growth, such as building new schools.
A preliminary population report is issued Nov. 15, and after allowing time for feedback from local officials and others that might be able to catch any errors, the estimates will be certified on Dec. 15.