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Census data shows Polk population up 21 percent

POLK COUNTY -- Polk County's population has grown by almost 21 percent in the last decade, the second highest increase among counties in the state during that period, federal data showed.



POLK COUNTY -- Polk County's population has grown by almost 21 percent in the last decade, the second highest increase among counties in the state during that period, federal data showed.

At 75,403 residents, Polk is now the 14th most populous county in Oregon, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

The census bureau released more data from last year's ambitious survey on Feb. 23, including populations for small areas, along with statistics on race, Hispanic origin, voting age and housing unit data.

"I've lived here for a long time and I guess I haven't recognized it as growing that much," said Polk County Commissioner Craig Pope. "But you look at Monmouth, Independence and Dallas, and I suppose I can see how it's happened quietly over time.

"I just wish our business and industry had grown by 21 percent, as well," he continued.

Census information is used by state officials to realign congressional and state legislative districts in their states, taking into account population shifts during the last several years.

Oregon's population grew by 12 percent in the last decade to 3.81 million. According to the census, the rate was the second lowest since the 1910 census.

Polk County was one of four counties in Oregon to see more than 17 percent growth in the last decade. Polk's population increased by nearly 12,000 residents; it now surpasses Klamath and Coos counties, as far as the number of residents.

Deschutes County in Central Oregon showed the highest jump at 36 percent. Polk's neighbors to the north, Yamhill and Washington counties, experienced population increases of 17 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

Demographic figures showed the state's Hispanic population grew by 63.5 percent; that's five times higher than Oregon's overall growth rate of 12 percent since 2000.

Polk's Hispanic or Latino population, meanwhile, grew by an ever larger amount -- 66 percent, from 5,480 10 years ago to 9,088 last year. The number of Asian residents increased from 683 to 1,435.

The county's white population grew by 16.5 percent, double the state's overall percentage change of 8.2 percent.

Pope said he was opposed to the race aspect of the census. "I'm not sure that should be applicable for growth numbers; it just feels like the government is trying to direct something.

"I'm more interested in knowing whether the growth is related to higher income in our county -- or more poverty," he said.

Last week's census data release didn't include socioeconomic categories, though it did touch on county housing and occupancy status.

Polk County had 30,302 housing units in 2010, with 28,288 of them occupied and almost 2,000 vacant.



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