State report: Don’t blame Californians for housing costs

'Migration to Oregon is not just for the rich'

This graph from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis says newcomers earn less that those people already here. (State of Oregon)
This graph from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis says newcomers earn less that those people already here. (State of Oregon)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Contrary to conventional wisdom, Portland’s affordable housing crisis is not being created by wealthy Californians and others moving to town.

In fact, according to a new analysis by Oregon state economist Josh Lehner, most migrants are poorer than those already living here.

“Despite some rhetoric out there, migration to Oregon is not just for the rich. In fact, migration by itself lowers Oregon incomes in the short-run given migrants tend to be younger and less likely to be employed,” says the analysis.

Other reasons housing costs are rising include the improving economy, which is boosting the incomes of existing residents.

“The number of people with a job, the type of job, and wage growth all matter quite a bit. So it’s really a complex set of circumstances driving this very clear pattern at the topline,” says the analysis, titled “Incomes, Migration and Housing Affordability.”

The analysis of census and other data found that most people moving to the Portland region are relatively young, meaning they didn’t leave good paying jobs and don’t come here with a lot of money. Most have the potential to eventually earn a lot of money, Lehner says, which is a good thing. But they don’t automatically push up rents and home prices when they arrive.

“Younger individuals and households, even those with a job, generally earn less money because they are still early in their careers. This is true even as young migrants have higher levels of educational attainment. And this is true among young California and Washington transplants as well,” says the analysis.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 News media partner.