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FYI Guy

Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

September 6, 2013 at 9:24 AM

More Portland expats moving to Seattle

Pioneer Square, Portland (Photo: Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland (Photo: Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

Think the Seattle-Portland rivalry is limited to Major League Soccer?

Think again.

From food trucks to record stores to hipsters, we’re competitive about almost anything. And who can resist an occasional Portland vs. Seattle smackdown?

But forget the petty squabbling. Ultimately, it all boils down to one simple question: where would you rather live — Seattle or Portland? And on that front, Seattle has been on a winning streak.

Newly-released data from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis reveal that — despite our higher rents and home prices — Seattle is more attractive to Portlanders than Portland is to Seattleites.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Between 2002 and 2009 — the most recent data available — about six percent more Portland residents made the move to Seattle than the reverse.   That isn’t an enormous difference, true. But keep in mind that our metro area is larger by more than one million people, so as a percentage of the total population, Portland’s migration to Seattle is significantly larger than Seattle’s to Portland.

It wasn’t always this way.  In seven out of 10 years prior to 2002, more Seattleites moved to Portland than the reverse.  In fact, Portland imported 17 percent more Seattleites than it exported between 1992 and 1994.

So how did Seattle turn it around?

Our better job market is surely a major factor. But don’t get the idea that Portlanders are jumping ship because of their local economy. No, Portland’s population has grown steadily, and continues to grow, just like Seattle’s.

And Portlanders who do move away are picky about where they’ll live next. In fact, net migration data from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis show Portland loses population to only nine of the 50 largest U.S. metros.  And can you guess which one they lose the most to?

Yep, Seattle.

So, despite the endless trash talk, could it be that Portlanders have a soft spot for us after all?

0 Comments | More in Demographics, Government Data | Topics: Portland

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