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Oregon -- Population -- Statistics, Demographic surveys -- Oregon, Population forecasting -- Oregon -- Wheeler County


Different growth patterns occur in different parts of the County and these local trends within the UGBs and the area outside UGBs collectively influence population growth rates for the county as a whole.

Wheeler County’s total population has declined slowly since 2000, with average annual growth rates of just above negative one percent between 2000 and 2010 (Figure 1); however, some of its sub-areas experienced some population growth during the 2000s. Fossil, the most populous UGB, experienced small growth and Spray posted the highest average annual growth rate at 0.1 and 1.1 percent, respectively, during the 2000 to 2010 period.

Wheeler County’s population decline in the 2000s was the direct result of an aging population. The aging population not only led to an increase in deaths, but also resulted in a smaller proportion of women in their childbearing years. This, along with more women choosing to have fewer children and have them at older ages, has led to fewer births in recent years. The larger number of deaths relative to births caused a natural decrease (more deaths than births) in every year from 2000 to 2015 (Figure 12). While net in-migration and natural decrease compounded to create a substantial population decrease during the early and middle years of the last decade, migration into the county increased in the later part of the decade and helped to offset the natural decrease. Net out-migration was still substantial for populations between the ages of 20 and 29 years from 2000 to 2010, but there has been net in-migration for a slightly older population from 30 to 39 years of age. In more recent years (2010 to 2015) net in-migration has increased, bringing with it some slight population growth.

Total population in Wheeler County as a whole as well as within its sub-areas will likely decline at a slightly slower pace in the near-term (2016 to 2035) compared to the long-term (Figure 1). The declining of growth rates is largely driven by an aging population—a demographic trend which is expected to contribute to a steady natural decrease (more deaths than births). As natural decrease occurs, population growth will become increasingly reliant on net in-migration.

Wheeler County’s total population is forecast to decrease by more than 90 over the next 19 years (2016- 2035) and by more than 300 over the entire 50-year forecast period (2016-2066). All sub-areas are expected to experience similar rates of population decline during the forecast period.


This report is published by the Population Research Center at Portland State University, and is a product of the Oregon Population Forecast Program.

The introductory presentation, preliminary forecast presentation, and Wheeler County final forecast tables are attached to this document as supplemental files.

Persistent Identifier

R2_Wheeler_201509-10.pdf (1237 kB)
Introductory presentation

WheelerCountyPreliminaryPresentation_rev.pdf (611 kB)
Preliminary forecast presentation

Wheeler_County_Final_Forecast_Tables.ods (51 kB)
Final forecast tables