I read your Jackson County population growth story with interest. My office co-workers and I were trying to figure out why the figures for the cities don't match the county total?
— Ted B., Ashland
As you learned in high school civics, Ted, the United States government takes a census every 10 years, so we periodically reestablish population figures.
Population helps determine how many congressional representatives each state gets. In between those 10-year grinds, states are left on their own to figure out how many people live within their borders.
For many years, the Population Research Center at Portland State University has done its own research and come up with annual estimates for each incorporated city and county in Oregon. Some time ago, the folks in Salem said "thank you very much" and adopted PSU's painstaking efforts and has since given the the research center official status.
Josh Lehner from the state Office of Economic Analysis says, "These numbers matter considerably because they are the official state estimates used for distributing shared revenues, land-use laws, and the like. However it should be noted that PSU tends to be more accurate than Census estimates in real time, for these intercensal years."
While PSU tracks incorporated cities, it doesn't pull out residential figures for unincorporated population centers. There were an estimated 216,900 people living in Jackson County as of July 1, 2017, but only 68 percent live in one of its 11 incorporated cities. White City, Prospect, Ruch, Sams Valley, or your favorite wide spot in the road, aren't broken out.
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