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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Comments 3

  1. Avatar for Neil Rue

    Neil Rue

    3:42 pm - April 7, 2023

    This article nails the symptoms.
    The cause(s) are the policies and implementation of such since the days of Occupy Wall Street in 2009. Way, way too much appeasement.
    Until there is a much stronger law and order position (more cops on the beat, a return to jail time for numerous offenses, and stricter enforcement of mass protests getting out of hand), Portland will remain the backwater city that it has become in relatively short order.

  2. Avatar for Bruce Greer

    Bruce Greer

    12:18 pm - April 8, 2023

    My Russian wife was in love with Portland. In 2019 we went back to St Petersburg and for various reasons, including Covid, stayed there until last October. We went to the Portland on my birthday to have dinner. She was shocked at the changes, recognizing the degradation that has occurred in so few years.

  3. Avatar for Char Pennie

    Char Pennie

    1:33 pm - April 9, 2023

    We left Portland over a year ago. Not only are the taxes getting INSANE, but there’s nothing to show for it. I purchased my home on Mt. Scott in 1986 and only saw the continuing decline of the city I once loved. I was close to transportation and shopping and figured I would be able to age there in style. However, after seeing the decline of the ridership on the bus that came straight up Mt. Scott Blvd. and the MAX station turned into a homeless / drug hangout there was no way I was going to take public transportation. All the things that attracted me to the city were gone. My husband and I now live in Molalla. We can walk everywhere.

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