How Portland Became Seattle Is Dying (2023)

When recent data from the US Census Bureau revealed thatSeattle's growth rate is, in the words of Seattle Times' Gene Balk, "easily the fastest among the 50 largest U.S. cities," the attention of the city's indefatigable Seattle Is Dying movement turned to Portland, Oregon. That city is surely in the decline that Seattle should be in. Its county lost 16,000 people in 2022. Fox News wasted no time:

Major West Coast cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle have seen many residents pack up and leave, amid the coronavirus pandemic, crime and dissatisfaction with left-wing policies. In fact, U-Haul found California was responsible for the largest one-way net loss of trucks. Now, Oregon’s Portland could next in line for a significant exodus.

But Seattle is actually growing. And who can afford to live in San Fransisco, but those at the tip of the tech pyramid? But the business of Fox News is, as I have said before, not unlike that of the monsters in the Pixar masterpiece, Monsters, Inc., to generate a very strong and negative feeling about the state of things, which can only be positive if the interests of the most powerful capitalists are satisfied. Fox: "Though the general population [of Portland] has declined for three years in a row, Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office reported a 50% increase in homelessness from 2019 to 2022. The mayor, a Democrat, also revealed Portland's number of homeless encampments has topped 700." But the Seattle Times began ringing this bogus Portland alarm before the Monsters, Inc. of cable news, before even the new census data.

(Video) Seattle is Dying | A KOMO News Documentary

@PaulVallas⁩ ⁦@John_Kass⁩ Seattle & Portland are harbingers of what is befalling Chicago. Your voices are needed more than ever to reverse the decline
Portland, ‘repelling its current citizens,’ is Seattle’s cautionary tale | The Seattle Times

— Steve Sarich (@elderschmoe) February 5, 2023

Indeed, Danny Westneat has been on this tip for more than a minute. Even in 2016, he warned: "Now Seattle wants to copy Portland’s disastrous homeless camping policy." That city, described by him as "our little brother" ("too experimental," hopelessly puerile, so on), was already a lost cause. But there was still hope if we learned from Portland's folly: "...175 miles up Interstate 5, the big brother seems oblivious to what the little brother just went through." So the news of Portland's population decline seemed to prove Westneat's crystal ball was in working order. He saw this coming from nearly a decade ago. He saw the explosion of the homeless crisis during the lockdown. He saw the black plague of the BLM protests—white America will never forgive Portland's white youth and progressives for so passionately siding with Black Americans on this issue, which, when examined, only made one demand: equal treatment under the law. Westneat saw it all and then some.

(Video) Seattle Is Dying? | What's Going On in Seattle?

But here is the curious thing. Denny Westneat quoted a tweet by an Oregon economist who deserves our attention on the matter of Portland's doom and gloom:

🚨 Yikes. Census estimates Oregon population declined in 2022. No rebound as of July 1st. This is a two or three alarm fire. -17,000 net domestic migration. If 2023 doesn’t rebound, it’s a five alarm fire for the economic outlook. 🚨

(Video) Death Of A City: Portland, Oregon
— Josh Lehner (@lehnerjw) December 22, 2022

His name is Josh Lehner, with the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. He presented a far richer picture of the population decline on Think Out Loud on OPB. He is super-cautious about reading census data that is new because the details behind the numbers take time to realize and analyze. All we have, for now (2022), are just numbers and nothing more. But according to his nose, Oregon's low birth rate must be considered while processing the economic impact of US Census Bureau data.


Last year, in the 2022 estimates that just came out from the Census Bureau, Washington also saw negative net migration as well, just like Oregon did, a little less than we did. But the big difference between Oregon and Washington is not just that they’re north of us, it’s that their birth rate is higher. Even though they also experienced an increase in pandemic related deaths and a decline in migration, their higher birth rate was more than large enough to offset those other changes. So Washington’s population increased overall, whereas ours did not because we have a very low birth rate.

(Video) FULL MEASURE: June 2, 2019 - Seattle is Dying

This is an economist. Sure, not of my school (Marxist), but he sticks to facts like a respectable Keynesian or a heterodox post-Keynesian. (Mainstream economics is about feelings, not facts—this is exactly what the Keynesian revolution of the 1930s was all about.) Lehner is not an anti-capitalist but, instead, he understands how it works from the point of view of public policy. This is what Westneat missed in his tweet. Lehner sees the serious macro/political/economic implications of population shifts. Massive amounts of public investment can be cut or directed in this and that way. The numbers matter. And not for a good reason.

It is here we arrive at the point of this post. It is here I hope to show you the value of a good economist. The economist Westneat obviously, predictably, instinctively missed. An economist who works with the facts. This is Lehner. The most valuable point he makes in the Think Out Loud on OPB interview is this: Our economic planning is structured to provide easy policy answers for a boom, but close to nothing for a bust. (Please pause on this.) The meaning: We know what to do when things are going well (capital inflation); we are in the dark when things go south (capital devaluation).

(Video) Seattle's addiction: The fentanyl crisis destroying the city

[Dave] Miller: When this U.S. census data came out, you wrote on Twitter that this is a two or three alarm fire. Why is population decline in a state such a big deal?

Lehner: I think there’s a couple of reasons for it. First, just quickly on maybe like a public policy point of view, growing pains are real. When we have more people moving here than are moving away, you have to build more housing, you have to build more roads or manage your transportation networks in a different way. Growing pains are real, but managing decay, managing decline, seems to be a lot harder because you have to decide what are you going to stop doing. When are you gonna stop replacing the sewer system, which roads are you gonna choose not to repair in the years ahead, that sort of thing. That’s a lot harder to do than to say, ‘Hey, we just need to add an extra road.’ or we need to toll the roads and put more buses in or whatever it is. Those aren’t not challenges, it’s just that those are easier things to manage than decline.

Please reread this passage. It says so much. A Marxist such as myself can have nothing but the deepest respect for this kind of economic reasoning. It rawly exposes the game feeling engineers, Westneat, Seattle Is Dying, and so on, are playing. It's one in which only half of the court is permitted to be visible. We are led to believe that growth is the be-all-end-all, and de-growth is the horror of horrors, not because de-growth (and capitalist devaluation in particular) is inherently a failure, but because it is culturally programmed to fail.

(Video) Oregon decriminalized drugs 2 years ago. Here's what happened


Why are people leaving Portland Oregon? ›

Ghest cites housing prices and the job market as reasons people are leaving. May says the biggest reason is safety because of cuts to police.

Is Portland losing residents? ›

From July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates Portland lost 11,226 people. During the same period from 2021 to 2022, the bureau estimates Portland lost 8,308 people. Oregon as a whole saw declining population from 2021 to 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Who has more homeless people Seattle or Portland? ›

There are, according to HUD's point-in-time count of homeless people in Seattle 40,800 homeless in the aforementioned city, compared to 6,633 homeless in Portland. So the problem is almost seven times worse in Seattle.

Why does Portland have so much homelessness? ›

With gentrification, the push-out of poverty and the increased number of older adults experiencing homelessness, young people who once were highly concentrated in downtown urban centers like Portland are now scattered throughout more suburban and rural parts of our communities,” Suib said.

Is Seattle or Portland better? ›

If you live city living and prefer that environment, Seattle is better. If you like green space and outdoor activities, Portland is superior. Both cities are beautiful places to live, and they each come with good and bad things about them.

What went wrong with Portland? ›

The city has seen a sharp rise in homelessness in the last few years. Numbers have climbed from 4,000 to over 6,500 in the metro area. Rent prices, which were already high, are still increasing, worsening the issue. Portland is struggling to find resources to right the wrong.

Where are people leaving Portland moving to? ›

Portland's interstate moving trends in 2022
Moved ToMoved From
#1Phoenix-Mesa, ArizonaPhoenix-Mesa, Arizona
#2Denver, ColoradoLos Angeles, Long Beach, California
#3Boise, IdahoAlbuquerque, New Mexico
#4Houston, TexasChicago, Illinois
1 more row
Mar 3, 2023

Where are Oregonians moving to? ›

Weekday Wrap: Oregonians are moving to Clark County, Washington, in droves.

Is it safe to live in Portland right now? ›

Portland, OregonCrime Rate & Safety

The metropolitan area's violent crime rate was lower than the national rate in 2020. Its rate of property crime was higher than the national rate.

Is Portland friendlier than Seattle? ›

A lot of people that end up moving to Seattle complain about the difficulty around befriending locals. But hey, if I'm being honest, Portland locals are very reserved as well. However, they're known to be friendlier than Seattleites and exude a more laid-back vibe.

What city has the worst homeless problem? ›

In 2022, Los Angeles had the nation's largest homeless population. About 582,000 Americans are experiencing homelessness, according to 2022 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data.

Is homelessness worse in LA or Seattle? ›

Among urban areas, only New York City and the Los Angeles metro had larger total homeless populations than Seattle and King County in 2022.

Is Portland cleaning up homeless camps? ›

Portland resumes clearing homeless encampments, trash along major roads after state agrees to pay $600K.

Why does Portland have so much crime? ›

Once hailed as the 'crown jewel of the West Coast' for its trendy art and food scenes, The City of Roses has been in peril since 2020, largely due to efforts to defund police and lax bail reform laws that leave little to no deterrent for increasingly brazen criminals.

Why does Oregon have such a bad homeless problem? ›

Oregon's homelessness crisis has been fueled by a housing shortage, the coronavirus pandemic and high drug addiction rates.

Which is more walkable Portland or Seattle? ›

Portland makes Top 10 of nation's most walkable cities, but can't best Seattle -

Who gets more rain Portland or Seattle? ›

Portland, Oregon, is one of the few cities that sees more days with measurable rainfall, about 155 days, but it actually receives slightly less rain than Seattle: 36.20 inches. The Olympic Rain Shadow is one of the reasons for the lack of hefty rainfall totals in the Seattle area.

Who gets more sun Portland or Seattle? ›

Portland averages 144 sunny days annually, while Seattle averages 152, so it is sunnier in Seattle than in Portland. Both Northwest cities have lots of partially sunny (or partially cloudy, depending on your perspective) days and are well below the national average of 205 sunny days per year.

Why is Walmart leaving Portland? ›

The locations shutting down are at Hayden Meadows and East Portland Plaza on 82nd Avenue. The company said it was shuttering those stores for financial reasons as Walmart's CEO announced record-breaking retail theft nationwide has been impacting the company's bottom line.

Why is Portland called Rip City? ›

Rip City. The nickname Rip City is usually used in the context of the city's NBA team, the Portland Trail Blazers. The term was coined by the team's play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers on February 18, 1971, the Blazers' first season.

When did Portland become weird? ›

Introduced in 2003 as an initiative to support local businesses, “Keep Portland Weird” has fast become Portland's unofficial motto. Anyone who's been to the city or watched cult TV show Portlandia will know that the phrase has been taken to heart, and Portland is proud to be, well, a little bit quirky.

Are people from Portland friendly? ›

Here's the thing: Most Portland folks are indeed friendly, but they are very reserved.

What is the racial makeup of Portland Oregon? ›

White alone, percent 73.8%
Black or African American alone, percent(a) 5.6%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone, percent(a) 0.9%
Asian alone, percent(a) 8.5%
54 more rows

What is the largest immigrant group in Portland? ›

and 68,976 foreign-born persons in city of Portland. Latin Americans are the largest foreign-born group in the Tri-County region (36 percent) and Mexicans make up 29 percent of the total foreign-born population in the area, the largest single country represented (figure 2).

What city in Oregon is growing the fastest? ›

Many cities in the Portland area saw more modest growth in recent years as soaring home prices pushed residents away. But not North Plains. From 2016 to 2021, this northwest Washington County community grew its population from 2,070 to 3,280 — a 58% increase, according to American Community Survey five-year estimates.

Where do most Floridians move to? ›

Canada and the United Kingdom are the most popular choices out of all the states shown according to the poll. Most families are interested in moving due to factors such as the economy, environment, healthier lifestyle, and better work opportunities, the survey said.

Where in Washington are Californians moving to? ›

Seattle, Washington

Coastal cities are incredibly popular to moving Californians, but Seattle is ideal for many. Seattle may make many Californians feel right at home with coastal cities similar to Santa Monica and Santa Clarita. Seattle calls out to nature-lovers and city-lovers alike.

Is it safe to walk in Portland at night? ›

Is Portland safe at night? Yes, Portland is a safe city to walk around at night. Avoid the area of West Burnside Street where in particular drug crimes are a daily occurrence. It's always recommended to walk around the city as a group of people after dark too.

What areas to avoid in Portland right now? ›

Many neighborhoods in the east part of Portland are home to higher-than-average rates of property and violent crime, with Hazelwood, Centennial, Lents, and Powellhurst being some of the most notorious.

Is Portland warmer than Seattle in winter? ›

It has persistently been colder near Portland than Seattle, thanks to the Columbia River Gorge. It's here where cold air from the interior continues to funnel into the Willamette Valley.

What city is best between Portland and Seattle? ›

The top cities between Portland and Seattle are Tacoma and Olympia. Tacoma is the most popular city on the route — it's 2 hours from Portland and less than an hour from Seattle.

Is Portland Oregon a pretty city? ›

Then living in Portland, Oregon, may be the best move for you. Portland, and all of The Pacific Northwest for that matter, is one of the most beautiful natural places in the United States, with a temperate forest that keeps the environment green all year.

What is the most homeless state in USA? ›

California has the largest homeless population in the United States with 161,548 individuals experiencing homelessness. There are several reasons why California has such a high rate of homelessness.

What are the top 5 homeless states? ›

California, New York, Florida and Washington had the most homeless people in 2022, according to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report. The four states accounted for more than half of the nation's homeless population, with 30% of the total living in California alone.

What country has no homeless problem? ›

At 0.003% or roughly 1 homeless person per 34,000 residents, Japan is the country with the world's lowest rate of homelessness.

Where do most homeless people live in Seattle? ›

The Jungle, officially known as the East Duwamish Greenbelt, is a greenbelt on the western slope of Beacon Hill in Seattle, Washington that is known for its homeless encampments and crime.

Why are there so many homeless people in Seattle? ›

Some reasons for homelessness have been attributed to the cost of living in Seattle having significantly risen in the past decade due to gentrification, lack of publicly owned affordable housing, and the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. These have all culminated in an increase in the homeless population.

What state has the best homeless programs? ›

Based on this data, we found that Colorado, Georgia and Oregon have the overall best homeless assistance, and Oklahoma, Arkansas and West Virginia have the worst. Factors we looked at include: Transitional housing.

Why are so many people leaving Oregon? ›

Bad policies and high taxes, with extreme high living costs with low wages will drive out even the most dedicated Oregonians. I myself, along with my three grown children, have decided to leave as well. We are a small business that employs 20. We're closing shop and leaving.

Where are people moving from Portland? ›

Portland's interstate moving trends in 2022
Moved ToMoved From
#1Phoenix-Mesa, ArizonaPhoenix-Mesa, Arizona
#2Denver, ColoradoLos Angeles, Long Beach, California
#3Boise, IdahoAlbuquerque, New Mexico
#4Houston, TexasChicago, Illinois
1 more row
Mar 3, 2023

Is it a good idea to move to Portland? ›

A: Yes, Portland, Oregon, is a great place to move. There are plenty of jobs, a high quality of life, and access to lots of natural areas.

Are people leaving Multnomah County? ›

According to the U.S. Census Bureau data, no county in Oregon saw more people flee from 2021 to 2022 than Multnomah County, which had an estimated population decline of 10,510 – almost two-thirds of the total number of people who left the state.

What state are people leaving the most? ›

Top states residents are leaving

The annual 2022 United Van Lines National Movers study is out! But it wasn't good news for New Jersey or New York. A similar report from United Van Lines showed New Jersey as the top outbound state, followed by Illinois, New York, Michigan, and Wyoming. The full list is below.

Are more Californians moving to Oregon? ›

Oregon gains the most residents from California. On average, 39,320 Californians move to Oregon annually. But an average of 19,523 Oregonians also make the move south, leaving Oregon with a net gain of 19,797 new residents from California every year.

Are a lot of Californians moving to Oregon? ›

Makes sense when you realize that California is the top contributor of out-of-state transplants in Oregon, and Oregon is the 5th most popular destination for exiting Californians overall. There's not any one reason why this may be, but there's no denying that people are moving from California to Oregon — in droves.

Is Portland still a good place to live? ›

Despite high real estate prices, residents still enjoy an excellent quality of life in Portland. You can take advantage of Portland's tax-free shopping when visiting all your favorite stores, and the city as a whole is committed to green energy and sustainability.

What is the ethnicity breakdown of Portland? ›

The 5 largest ethnic groups in Portland, OR are White (Non-Hispanic) (69.5%), Asian (Non-Hispanic) (8.56%), White (Hispanic) (5.82%), Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) (5.71%), and Two+ (Non-Hispanic) (4.8%).

What is a livable salary in Portland? ›

Portland area residents need an annual post-tax salary of $74,086 to live “comfortably,” according to a new study.

Is homelessness getting better in Portland? ›

Initial results from the 2023 Portland region's homeless point-in-time count are out and data from this year is promising. Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties all showed a drop in chronic homelessness. That number is down 17 percent, compared to 2022.

What is the leading cause of death in Multnomah County Oregon? ›

Cancer and heart disease are the leading causes of death for Multnomah County residents, but black residents are at higher risk than their white neighbors, the county's lead epidemiologist told commissioners Tuesday during a briefing on mortality and public health.

Where not to move in Portland? ›

Neighborhoods to avoid in Portland
  • Hazelwood especially the area around the Gateway Transit Center.
  • Centennial.
  • Powellhurst-Gilbert.
  • Downtown.
  • Slow.
  • Montavilla.
  • Kenton.
  • parkrose.
May 2, 2022

Why are Multnomah County taxes so high? ›

Metro and Multnomah County voters passed big income tax measures to help the homeless and preschool for all. But locals may now see the effects as people with disposable income are choosing to live outside of Portland.


1. Oregon decriminalized drugs 2 years ago. Here's what happened
(CBC News: The National)
2. Portland's Meltdown: A Progressive Experiment That 'Has Gone Colossally Bad'
(CBN News)
3. The Fight for the Soul of Seattle | A KOMO News Documentary
(KOMO News)
4. Seattle's Decay: A Street documentary view of how Seattle is dying today - news from the street
(We The Governed)
5. How Portland became an Antifa Stronghold | Interview with @drpeterboghossian and @AndyNgo
(Lotuseaters Dot Com)
6. Moment mexican 'cowboy' stopped armed robbery - BBC News
(BBC News)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Foster Heidenreich CPA

Last Updated: 04/10/2023

Views: 6374

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (76 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Foster Heidenreich CPA

Birthday: 1995-01-14

Address: 55021 Usha Garden, North Larisa, DE 19209

Phone: +6812240846623

Job: Corporate Healthcare Strategist

Hobby: Singing, Listening to music, Rafting, LARPing, Gardening, Quilting, Rappelling

Introduction: My name is Foster Heidenreich CPA, I am a delightful, quaint, glorious, quaint, faithful, enchanting, fine person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.