The metropolitan Portland area population has a less ethnically diverse population than most other metropolitan areas in the United States and the West Coast. Metropolitan Portlandís minority population comprised 20% of the metropolitan population in 2005, compared to an average 36% of other metropolitan areas of similar size.

Fueled by internal and international migration and new births, Latinos are the fastest growing minority population in the metropolitan region.

  • The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the Latino population increased from 50,600 in 1990 to 142,400 in 2000, an increase of 181% during this period (1).

  • Census estimates indicate that this population grew by another 52,000 between 2000 and 2005.

An analysis of the age distribution of this population shows that these population changes will have a dramatic effect on the ethnic composition and the educational support needs of schools as the youngest members of this population enter school age.

People of color are increasing as a percentage of overall population of the Portland region, and related changes and trends are also apparent. As a group, people of color in Portland tend to earn less than their white counterparts, and poverty rates for minorities are higher than for whites. Driven in part by housing affordability, there appear to be larger clusters of people of color, people in poverty and children living in further-out locations, both in Portland and in the larger region, and fewer of them living in close-in Portland neighborhoods. The impact of this is already affecting the regionís school systems and will likely have many impacts on our communityís future.

Our growing cultural and ethnic diversity provides new challenges and opportunities for Portland to weave the richness of our many communities into our civic and social fabric.

  1. There is general agreement that the U.S. Census likely undercounts certain population groups, including the poor and communities of color. This can happen because of mistakes in reporting the data, varying definitions of race/ethnicity, fear of consequences if the information is shared and how the Census is carried out (by mail, which might miss homeless people or people who have informal living arrangements). Portlandís Native American community in particular has expressed concern about the accuracy of Census data.


Click Here to view a graph depicting the percent of and change in minority population in the Portland/Vancouver Metro Region.

Click Here to view a chart depicting the forcasted change in future household makeup.

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