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Oregon’s retirement-age population growing fast

Elliot Njus Oregonian

PORTLAND – The retirement-age boom is well underway in Oregon.

Oregon’s 65-and-older population grew by 18 percent between July 2010 and July 2014, according to newly released population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. That outpaces the country as a whole, which saw its senior population grow by 14.2 percent in the same time period.

Most Oregon counties saw their 65-and-older population grow by more than 10 percent in the same time period. No county saw a decrease.

It’s the leading edge of the baby boomer generation, born between 1946-64. The first boomers reached 65 in 2011.

In the first couple of years after 2010, “we probably had kind of slow going compared to what we’re going to have over the next 15 years or so,” said Charles Rynerson of the Population Research Center at Portland State University. “It’s just going to keep growing and growing.”

Deschutes County saw the biggest increase. Its 65-and-over population grew 31 percent between 2010-14, followed by Washington County (24.2 percent) and Clackamas County (23.2 percent).

Oregon has received some national attention as a retirement destination, but much of the explosion in the retirement-age population comes from people who were already here.

In 2010, the Portland area was notable for its disproportionately high population of people in their 50s and 60s – the people who are beginning to turn 65 today.

And much of that population comes from a torrent of young and well-educated people who moved to Oregon in the 1970s.

Sound familiar?

“There’s a lot of young, well-educated people who have been coming here since the ’90s, but they were coming here in the ’70s, too,” Rynerson said.

The Census Bureau also found that the millennial generation, born between 1982 and 2000, has grown to 83.1 million and now outnumbers baby boomers.

And 44.2 percent of U.S. millennials are part of a minority race or ethnic group, making them a more diverse group than any previous generation.

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