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Population Forecasts

Oregon's land use planning program relies on population forecasts as a primary tool for determining urban growth boundary (UGB) expansions and for crafting new land use planning policies. By estimating future populations based on historic and current trends, as well as assuming the likelihood of future events, population forecasts provide necessary information to help planners, public officials, private firms, and developers better understand the short and long term effects of population growth in local areas.

In the recent past, Oregon law required counties to create their own population forecasts. This resulted in widespread inconsistencies in the forecast methods used. Additionally, the costs of creating a forecast kept some communities from updating their forecast on a regular basis. Therefore, the legislature passed a law (ORS 195.033) that assigned the forecast creation task to the Population Research Center at Portland State University (PSU). In 2015, the Land Conservation and Development Commission adopted rules (OAR 660-032) to implement the new law.

Oregon Population Forecast Program (OPFP)

The Population Research Center (PRC) kicked off the Oregon Population Forecast Program (OPFP) in 2015. OPFP prepares forecasts for the state in 3 year cycles. Data is created for one-third of the Oregon counties each year. The first year, OPFP built forecasts for cities and counties in southern and central Oregon. In 2016, the work shifted to eastern Oregon. Forecasts for northwest Oregon were created in 2017. Additional details about the program and the resulting population forecast data can be found by visiting the Population Research Center website.

A few highlights of the program are:

  • Coordinated forecasts for cities and counties in the state every four years
  • Forecasts for urban growth boundaries (except Metro)
  • 50-year outlook (forecast)
  • Public input and review of forecasts
  • A process to challenge data for forecasts thought to be incorrect

Note: Metro is excluded from the program. The Population Research Center will produce county level forecasts for Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties, as well as for city UGBs outside of Metro's jurisdiction.

For further reading:

Memo to LCDC on implementation of population forecasting program, 2017
Memo to LCDC on adoption of rules for population forecasting program, 2015
Perspective on Population Forecasting, 2012


Gordon Howard
Community Services Division Manager
Phone: 503-856-6935