Well, we all want to engage Millennials more and better, and Extension is no different. So let’s get a sense of their geographic distribution in the more urban parts of the state.

Nugget2The Nugget:

In most of Oregon’s metropolitan areas, you’ve got slightly higher odds of bumping into a Millennial in the central cities than in the suburbs, small towns, or rural areas. Only in Salem and Bend are you more likely to find a Millennial in the small towns of those metro areas than you are in the central cities, suburbs, or rural areas.

Evidence for the Nugget:

According to data for the 2008-2012 period from the American Community Survey, Millennials were concentrated at these percentages in the central cities, suburbs, small towns, and rural areas of Oregon’s major metropolitan areas:

Albany-Corvallis Millenials

Eugene-Salem Millennials

The data show that across all these metro areas, Millennials represented 1 in 5 to 2 in 5 members of the population in the central cities. Though this means they were still in the minority in these central cities, that representation is higher than the roughly 1 out of 7 people Millennials represented in the rural parts of these metro areas.

Of course, please note that in some of these metro areas there wasn’t much difference between the representation of Millennials in central cities and their representation in suburbs or small towns. In those areas, take that into consideration when you think about targeting and consider using a multi-geography approach.

Click here:  UrbanSuburbanRuralProfile_Methods_Etuk_20140905 for more information about how these geographies were defined and the estimates calculated.

Take-awayTake Aways:

Recruitment or outreach efforts directed at Millennials have to meet that population where it is, from a relevance perspective and from a geographic perspective. These data suggest directing those efforts, geographically, at the central cities of the state’s metropolitan areas. In these areas, any effort you make is more likely to reach a Millennial than an effort you put forth in a rural part of these metro areas.

When you meet a Millennial in one of these metro areas, ask them if they think they’ll move later on in life and where they’re hoping to move. Is it going to be the suburbs or rural areas eventually? This will help you get a sense of the future location of this age group. The fact that they’re now concentrated a bit more in central cities may just be a function of this part of their life-course — as they age they may gravitate towards the suburbs and rural areas like their parents (the Baby Boomers).

If you are trying to recruit or engage Millennials in the rural parts of these metro areas, try using a “hidden population” strategy like snowball recruitment (referral-based), facility-based recruitment (places where they tend to be), or time-location based recruitment (places where they tend to be at times they’re likely to be there).

Sorry folks, I’m still on the 40-40-20 kick. I’m working on a project to put outcome based planning into action and 40-40-20 is the outcome of the day.

So if we want to achieve 40-40-20 (recall that’s 40% of Oregon adults with a Bachelor’s degree, 40% with an Associate’s degree or post-secondary credential, and 20% with High School), it would be good to know if there are any places in Oregon that are coming close to achieving that so we can use them as models for replication elsewhere.


Nugget2The nugget:

I looked at data from the American Community Survey (ACS) across all counties and towns in Oregon, for the 2007-2011 period and found only one that was at 40-40-20: Tetherow, OR at 48-52-0. A tiny (45 people), affluent, resort community outside of Bend, where all the employed adults work as management professionals in the education, health, and social service industry.

Tetherow may be a town to learn from, but it may be a bit of an extreme example of the conditions for 40-40-20. Let’s relax our demands and look for counties and towns that come close to achieving parts of the 40-40-20 goal.


Model Counties

Bachelor’s 40% goal

  • There is one county that is at or above 40% with a Bachelor’s degree or more: Benton County – it’s at 47-7-16. Go Beavs!Evidence

Associate’s 40% goal (I can only look at the percent with an Associate’s degree because the ACS does not provide estimates of the number of people who have any other type of less than 4-year, post-secondary credential)

  • There are no counties that come close to 40% of adults with an Associate’s degree, but Sherman County was the highest, at 14% — it’s at 16-14-28, followed by Josephine, Deschutes, and Gilliam. An interesting mix of non-metropolitan and newer metropolitan counties, all with higher than average employment in construction, extraction, and maintenance occupations.

High School 20% goal

  • Five metropolitan counties hover around the 20% goal for adults with high school education:
    • Benton (47-7-16)
    • Clackamas (31-8-24)
    • Deschutes (29-10-24)
    • Multnomah (38-7-21)
    • Washington (39-8-19)

Model Towns

Bachelor’s 40% goal

  • 42 (11%) of the 372 towns in Oregon recognized by the Census Bureau have 40% or more adults with a Bachelor’s degree or more. You can access that list here: Townsw40BS. These towns are our big cities, are very closely adjacent to our big cities, or are amenity destinations high in second-home ownership.

Associate’s 40% goal

  • There are two towns in which 40% or more of adults have an Associate’s degree: Tetherow and Wamic (which is also a very small resort community, in Wasco County)
  • There are six towns that are one standard deviation unit above average in the percent of adults with an Associate’s degree:
    1. Tetherow (48-52-0)
    2. Wallowa Lake (55-26-18)
    3. Sunriver (50-22-4)
    4. Neskowin (45-21-19)
    5. Adair Village (46-16-16)
    6. Camp Sherman (61-15-14)

These towns all share some characteristics as well. They’re small and either associated with high-value natural amenities and vacation rentals or adjacent to affluent communities.

High School 20% goal

  • There are 56 towns that hover around the 20% goal for adults with high school education (have between 16% and 24% of adults with high school). You can access that list by clicking here: Townsw20.

Take-awayThe take-aways:

  • These findings suggest that there are certain types of local conditions associated with the 40-40-20 educational outcomes: natural resource amenities, affluence, adjacency to metropolitan areas, and maybe others that you’ve thought of as you read the lists.
    • Though we can’t do much about the availability of natural resource amenities across all parts of the state there may be attributes of the economies or culture of these areas that can be replicated. How would implementing those conditions affect existing populations and their qualities of life? How might we play a role identifying or trying to create these conditions? What additional data might we need about these communities?
  • The findings also illustrate that there may be some difficulty ahead in achieving the 40% with an Associate’s degree or post-secondary credential goal.
    • Very few communities have attained it and we don’t have a reputable, consistent source of data about the number of Oregon adults with a short-duration post-secondary credential.  This demonstrates the importance of setting goals for program planning that are measureable and attainable – a key lesson for outcome-based, data-driven planning.


There’s a common belief out there that small towns are in decline. I was contacted by someone from the media a couple months ago who was looking for data that would prove just this point. What I shared surprised her quite a bit! Maybe it will surprise you too.

Nugget2Learning Nuggets:

  1. The vast majority of small towns in Oregon have increased in population over the last couple decades.
  2. Small towns that have declined are not spread evenly across the state, but small towns that increased population are present across the whole state.
  3. The demographic reason small towns haven’t declined is because as Oregon’s population increases we also see more and more people living in towns, large and small, as opposed to the outlying country-side.
  4. There are differences in the settlement patterns across counties; in some counties the vast majority of folks live in towns and in others, the majority of the population lives out in the county.

Evidence to Support the Nuggets:

  1. In 2010, out of the 245 small towns (places with fewer than 2,500 people) in Oregon, only 31 (13%) had declined in population since 1990.

    • There were about 144,000 people living in small towns in 1990 and about 186,000 people living in small towns in 2010
  2. The small towns that declined in population since 1990 were located in 18 counties (only half of all counties) in Oregon, and all counties but one had small towns that  grew.Small Town Pop Change in OR Counties - 1990 to 2010

    • All counties in Oregon, except for Crook, have small towns that increased in population between 1990 and 2010. Crook is the exception because it only has one town that’s recognized by the Census Bureau and it’s larger than 2,500 people (Prineville is the town and its 2010 population was 9,200).
  3. The population of Oregon increased by about 1 million people between 1990 and 2010. At the same time, the percentage of population living in towns went from 70% in 1990 to 79% in 2010.

    • In other words, in 1990 30% of Oregonians lived in the “country-side” (villages and areas outside of town limits) and now in 2010 only about 20% of Oregonians do.
    • The concept of a populated country-side is “dying,” not small-town life. About 52,000 fewer people lived outside of towns in 2010 than did in 1990, while the population living in small towns grew by about 42,000 people.
    • Why do you think fewer Oregonians are living in the country-side?
  4. BUT, the population living in the rural country-side isn’t gone and it isn’t dying everywhere in Oregon!

    • In Lake County, Crook County, and Polk County fewer than 50% of the population lived in towns in 2010. So this means that the majority of people in these counties live out in the county, outside of town limits.
    • Four counties in Oregon actually saw increases in the percentage of people living outside of towns recognized by the Census Bureau. Can you guess which four? I’ll give you a hint; they’re all non-metropolitan counties…

 A Few Take-aways:

  • Take-awayWe should be planning our programs anticipating modest growth in small-towns. People don’t just move to our big cities in Oregon.
  • We should recognize that our rural populations, though still rural, are increasingly living in closer proximity to one another and our programs should reflect the needs that come along with small town life as opposed to life in the country-side.
  • There are counties where the bulk of the population doesn’t live in towns. In those cases we should plan to invest significant resources in reaching those across the county, outside of the town centers. Also, we need to bear the lifestyle (longer travel times to work and services, more place-bound activities) and the values (perhaps related to a desire not to be tied to city ordinances, taxes, and rules) of this population in mind when we design our programs.
  • What else do these data suggest to you about how we should be thinking about Extension or other programs?


It’s well-known that young people typically leave rural areas in search of higher education and work opportunities. There’s also a common belief out there that this out-migration of young people represents a “brain drain.” Recently, a University of Minnesota Extension study showed that though young people (18-29) might be leaving rural areas, between 1990 and 2010 rural areas across the US were attracting people age 30-49. These authors argue that this is evidence of a rural “brain gain.” So the question for us is, is this true for Oregon? Is this really a brain gain?

Nugget2Key Learning Nugget:

Between 1990 and 2010 rural Oregon did attract people age 30-49, but these in-flows of people weren’t necessarily associated with gains in the overall education levels of the population – we actually can’t be sure if this in-migration is synonymous with “brain gain.”

Evidence to Support the Nugget:

  • The charts below show that the 1990s and 2000s saw net in-migration of 30-49 year olds in non-metro Oregon


Positive values indicate net in-migration and negative values indicate net out-migration of people in the age group.
Positive values indicate net in-migration and negative values indicate net out-migration of people in the age group. Source:


Positive values indicate net in-migration and negative values indicate net out-migration of people in the age group.
Positive values indicate net in-migration and negative values indicate net out-migration of people in the age group. Source:
  • Net in-migration of 30-49 year olds is not associated with gains in the level of education among the population.
    • Correlation of non-metro net migration rates with change in the percent of adults age 25+ with a Bachelor’s or more actually reveals a negative relationship in the 1990s and 2000s (rho = -.47 for 1990s, rho = -.08 for 2000s). This means that counties with higher net in-migration rates of people age 30 to 49 had lower growth in the percent of people with a Bachelor’s or more in these two decades. In other words, counties with high rates of in-migration of 30-49 year olds saw low growth in educational attainment, while counties with low rates of in-migration of 30-49 year olds saw high growth in educational attainment.
    • According to linear regression, these negative correlations were statistically significant for the 1990s, but very small (b = -.0057), and non-existent for the 2000s. This ultimately means that in the 2000s net in-migration of 30 to 49 years had nothing to do with changes in educational attainment among the population, and in the 1990s net in-migration had only a small amount to do with changes in educational attainment, and they were negative.
    • There may be a few reasons for this finding:
      1. The education levels of rural 30-49 year old in-migrants in the 1990s were actually relatively low.
      2. We aren’t accurately measuring brain gain. Instead of using overall educational attainment in counties perhaps we need to be measuring the “brainy-ness” of the in-migrants themselves. Unfortunately, we don’t know the education levels of these in-migrants because the data don’t exist.
      3. The effect of in-migrants age 30-49 on the overall education level in the non-metro counties may be muted by the presence of other age groups and their education levels.

Take-awayThe Take-Aways:

  • New-comers, age 30 to 49, are a reality in our rural communities. This means we can think about and talk about rural communities in Oregon as places of growth in this respect. Out-migration of youth can happen at the same time as in-migration of middle-aged adults. It also means that we shouldn’t forget to include these new-comers in our programs. They may have some cool ideas about new programs or ways of offering current programs and they’ll likely benefit greatly from being involved!
  • The data also show us that we can’t infer that the in-migration of middle-aged adults to rural areas represents a brain gain. If we want to find out about the education levels of this new population, we need to gather better data.
  • What else do you take away from these data?


We all know that Latinos are a growing population in Oregon. The chart below shows this!

ruralUrbanOR Latino graph




(click the chart to look at rural and urban race/ethnicity data in the Rural Communities Explorer)




But what many of us don’t realize is that Latinos live in rural and urban Oregon, and are increasingly urban. (The chart shows that too!) So because the Latino community isn’t in just one type of environment in our state it’s important to think about the rural and urban differences among this growing population. Here are some interesting findings about these urban and rural differences that I’ve come across in my demographic adventures.



Key learning nugget:

Latinos in Oregon tend to have lower socioeconomic status (SES) than non-Latinos. When Latinos live in urban areas they’re more likely to be surrounded by other people with lower SES, and when they live in rural areas they’re more likely to be surrounded by people with higher SES. This suggests that inequality by ethnicity among neighbors is higher in rural parts of the state.


Evidence to support this nugget:


1. Latinos have lower socioeconomic status than non-Latinos in Oregon.

According to the American Community Survey, between 2006 and 2010, in Oregon:

  • 55% of all adult Latinos had a high school education or higher compared to 91% of non-Latino adults;
  • The median income among Latino households was about $37,000, while it was $45,000 for non-Latinos;
  • The mean earnings among Latino full-time, year-round workers was $18,530 while it was $23,758 for non-Latino full-time, year-round workers;
  • 26% of Latinos were in poverty, compared to 12% of non-Latino whites


2. Socioeconomic status (SES) among rural Latinos (for whom we have data) is not that different from urban Latinos (for whom we have data)

According to the American Community Survey, between 2006 and 2010, in Oregon:

  • 46% of rural Latinos had a high school or greater education, and 42% of urban Latinos had a high school or greater education;
  • The median income among rural Latinos was $37,748, and among urban Latinos it was $37,448;
  • 25% of rural Latinos were in poverty, and 29% of urban Latinos were


3. Rural Latino-dominated communities (about 50% Latino) are different from urban Latino-dominated communities (also about 50% Latino)

According to the American Community Survey, between 2006 and 2010, in Oregon:

  • 75% of all people who lived in rural Latino census tracts had a high school education or greater, but only 61% of all people who lived in urban Latino census tracts had a high school education or greater;
  • The median income for all people who lived in rural Latino census tracts was $47,500, while it was $42,300 in urban Latino census tracts;
  • 14% of all people in rural Latino census tracts were poor, but 23% of all people in urban Latino tracts lived in poverty


A take-away:

People of similar socioeconomic status tend to associate more easily and more frequently with one another; they share similar life experiences and cultures. Programs that seek to bring Latinos and non-Latinos together from across the state, should recognize that interactions will need to be carefully facilitated to bridge cultural differences associated with ethnicity and socioeconomic status. In urban neighborhoods, however, the differences will be less stark. And in rural communities you may need to bridge bigger ethnic and socioeconomic cultural differences between Latino and non-Latino neighbors.

What else do you take away from these findings?