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Prineville population has officially eclipsed 11,000 for the first time, according to Portland State University Population Research Center

Crook County is once again among the fastest growing counties in Oregon and in the past year, has seen the greatest percentage of growth in Central Oregon.

According to preliminary data from Portland State University's Population Research Center, the county population rose from 24,866 people on July 1, 2020 to 25,482 people for July 1, 2021, a 2.48% increase that is second only to Morrow County, which saw an increase of 3.42%.

The growth exceeds Deschutes County's 2.07% population increase (fourth among Oregon counties) and 1.37% of population growth in Jefferson County (ranking sixth). All three counties outpace Oregon's overall growth of 0.54%.

Portland State released municipal population estimates as well, but the Population Research Center did not rank the rates of growth. Prineville grew from 10,794 people on July 1, 2020 to 11,042 on July 1, 2021, an increase of 248 people and growth rate of about 2.3%. It is also the first time in Prineville's history that the community's population has surpassed 11,000.

Portland State estimates are based on the 2020 census, changes in housing units and group quarters, births and deaths, public school enrollment, employment, health insurance, tax returns and driver's licenses as well as other administrative data indicative of population change.

The population growth comes at a time when residential construction continues to surge and job growth has outpaced other Oregon counties.

"Like always, we try to have a fully staffed community development department to make sure that people who want to build homes are able to do it," said Crook County Judge Seth Crawford. "We are constantly working at the regional level and county level to bring in jobs to make sure we have businesses for people to go and shop."

According to Josh Smith, the city of Prineville's planning director, a shift is taking place in residential construction as the amount of lots on which homes can be built is diminishing, a situation that coincides with a continuing high demand for new homes and relatively low inventory of houses for sale.

Several existing subdivisions are consequently launching new phases. New roads are under construction and water and sewer pipes are going into the ground. Meanwhile, the Prineville city planning department staff has had conversations with other people who are looking at building larger developments on local properties.

The shift to building infrastructure for new subdivisions is expected to provide builders more lots on which to construct homes, and once that work is complete, home building will likely bounce back.

Meanwhile, Crook County is faring better than most counties in rebounding from pandemic job loss. Oregon Employment Department recently reported that Oregon as a whole has regained just two-thirds of the jobs lost since the onset of the pandemic in February 2020. However, Crook County is one of only a handful of counties in Oregon that have actually surpassed their pre-pandemic job levels and are into an expansion.

According to Damon Runberg, Central Oregon's regional economist with Oregon Employment Department, Crook County has roughly 720 more jobs than the same period in 2019 before the pandemic.

He said most of the job growth appears to have come the continued presence and growth of the Facebook and Apple data centers. Runberg notes that jobs have increased in the construction, information and professional and business services industries.

The two data centers have been in a seemingly constant state of construction during the past few years as both facilities continue to expand to match server and storage demands. At the Prineville Data Center, more than 350 jobs have been supported (including contractors), and 1,000 construction workers are onsite on a given day. The current campus is currently 4.6 million square feet, according to the Facebook Data website.


Oregon 10 biggest cities:

Portland - 658,773

Salem - 177,694

Eugene - 175,626

Gresham - 114,361

Hillsboro - 108,154

Bend - 100,922

Beaverton - 97,761

Medford - 87,353

Springfield -62,352

Corvallis - 57,601

Central Oregon 2021 populations

Bend - 100,922

Redmond - 36,122

Prineville - 11,042

Madras - 7,717

Sisters - 3,286

La Pine - 2,654

Culver - 1,636

Metolius - 981

County 2021 population estimates

Deschutes - 203,390

Crook - 25,482

Jefferson - 24,889

Date from the PSU Population Research Center Preliminary 2021 Report

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