BEND, Ore. - The Bend-Redmond Metropolitan Area (defined as all of Deschutes County), as well as Crook and Jefferson counties are growing at a rapid pace, among the fastest in the state and in some cases the nation. according to new Census Bureau estimates released Thursday..
"You know, in Oregon, we are still one of the faster-growing areas," Damian Syrnyk, a senior planner for the city of Bend's Growth Management Department, said Wednesday. "When you look at Bend, Redmond, Crook County, that's where you see population growing faster than other parts of the state."
In fact, the federal figures show Bend-Redmond was the third-fastest growing metro area in the country, with a population up 3.6 percent in the year ending last July 1, to about 181,300 people. That's up 6,300 in just a year.
"We use the Census Bureau's data ,along with Portland State University's, to forecast population growth," Syrnyk said. "And from that we can look at housing growth, compare it to job growth, and that helps us plan accordingly with sizing water, sewer, transportation and stormwater -- everything that requires us to really look at population growth, to make sure we are planning accordingly."
Since the once-a-decade 2010 Census, the actual head count for the nation, the Bend-Redmond remains one of the more rapidly-growing areas of the country. Syrnyk said the latest growth numbers are not really that surprising or eye-opening.
The Census Bureau estimates also show Crook County to be eighth-fastest growing county in the country, up more than 900 residents to 22,570 residents, as of last July 1. (One caveat: That ranking is for counties with a population of 10,000 or more.)
"It is exciting, since we lost about 1,000 people in 2008 or 2009, so we are looking forward to having it come back," Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe said. "We have been feeling like it is coming back, and we are really comfortable with that."
Roppe said Prineville is prepared for this growth and has increased the amount of housing since last year. She also said Prineville has remained between 7,000 and 10,000 residents and will never lose its small-town feel.
"It's just safe, secure, and the people are welcoming, so it is a wonderful place to raise your family," Roppe said. "I've lived here this time since 1983 and I have to tell you that I love this town, and it is a wonderful place to live."
Jefferson County grew 2.1 percent, reaching 23,000 people in 2016. That makes it the seventh-fastest growing county in the state.
The farther out from that actual Census head count, the more variance is likely between the Census Bureau estimates and those from Portland State University's population researchers, who issue their estimates in the fall.
PSU's estimate for the county's population last July 1 was 176,635, or nearly 5,900 fewer residents than the Census Bureau. But both estimated a roughly 3.5 percent population growth over the previous year
Along with natural increases -- the number of births vs. deaths -- PSU county estimates for newcomers (net migration) rely on data in records from income tax returns and school enrollment to driver's license issuances. City estimates, meanwhile, are based largely on changes in housing stock and an average number of residents per housing unit, figured using the latest Census Bureau data. The Census Bureau uses similar data to compile its estimates.