Portlanders Are Voting with Their Feet

By Eric Fruits, Ph.D.

Oregon’s economic engine is losing steam. For the second year in a row, Multnomah County lost population. The U.S. Census Bureau reports the county now has 21,000 fewer people than in 2020. In contrast, Clark County, Washington added more than 11,000 in population.

It’s not an accident and it’s not a mystery. Over that time, housing prices in the Portland region have increased by 30%. But, it’s more than just housing prices.

Portland now has the second highest tax burden of any major city in the U.S. Only New York City has higher taxes. If you can save thousands of dollars just by crossing the river to Clark County, you might just cross the river.

For decades, Portland coasted on its reputation of being one of the most livable cities in the country. But those days are over. Crime is rampant, and much of the city looks like a waste heap. Last month, my car was stolen and used in a shooting. A day after that, my neighbor’s car was broken into. Just this week, my other neighbor’s house was burgled and their car was stolen. All that happened on one block in the space of one month.

It’s no mystery why people are leaving Portland. They are voting with their feet.

Eric Fruits, Ph.D. is Vice President of Research at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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