A new regional forecast by Greenlight Greater Portland shows that despite a projected loss of 38,500 jobs this year, the region can expect to add 39,500 new residents – including more foreign-born and minority residents than bigger West Coast cities.
The study, called the 2009 Greater Portland Prosperity Index, says the region's 1.6 percent population growth is consistent with Portland-Vancouver's year-over-year increase in the past five years, suggesting that newcomers in general aren't deterred by the decline in jobs.
In 2007, 5 percent of residents reported having lived in another state than Oregon or Washington the previous year, the highest rate of newcomers than in any other West Coast metro area.
Once the economy turns a corner and the region begins adding jobs — Greenlight projects 98,000 new jobs by 2014 — Portland-Vancouver will be poised to fill them with skilled workers of all kinds, the study's authors say.
A growing number of those workers will be foreign born. The region is adding foreign-born residents (25 percent growth) and other minorities (23 percent growth from 2000 to 2007) at a rate greater than that of West Coast metros such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose.
While jobs in greater Portland are in short supply, the region has other assets attracting new residents. One, notably, is comparatively low costs. Home prices average $271,662 in Portland-Vancouver, among the lowest on the West Coast, far less than Seattle's $326,557 or San Francisco's $433,395. Commercial real estate prices are the lowest of any West Coast metro.
"While we're focused on the region's economic climate and unemployment, we sometimes forget what an attractive place greater Portland is," says Greenlight CEO Tim Priest. "People continue to move here, and that talent will be a big asset once companies begin hiring again."
The annual Greater Portland Prosperity Index will be released today at Greenlight Greater Portland's Economic Summit. Other presentations will include the City of Portland Economic Development Strategy; a panel on higher education; and the "Climate Prosperity Project," a regionwide strategy to integrate green thinking and economic development.