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Oregon housing growth high

Rate ninth in nation, but may be slowing

Wire and staff reports

PORTLAND ­ Oregon is among the nation's leaders in housing growth,but a state economist expects the trend to slow over the next few years.

Oregon ranks ninth in the nation in housing unit growth from 1990 to1996, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released Monday.

There are 1.34 million homes and apartments in the state, an increaseof 12.4 percent over the six-year span, the report said.

The number of homes in Jackson County grew by 14.9 percent during thatperiod, based on the number of building permits issued. Including multi-familyunits and manufactured housing, 9,019 residences were added in the six years,bringing the total to 69,395.

Year by year, the rate of growth peaked in 1994 at 3.3 percent, or 2,136units. Multi-family building peaked that year at 606 units.

But Jackson County residential building declined in both 1995 and 1996.It dropped to 1,317 units last year, when just 119 multi-family units wereadded. The total was a 2 percent gain from the year before.

Multi-family construction has been cyclical, according to the March editionof Labor Trends, released by the Medford office of the OregonEmployment Department. Retirement-related units have been a big part ofrecent development and will be a factor in the future, it noted.

Oregon trailed Nevada (31.9 percent), Idaho (15.5), Georgia (14.1), Utah(14.0), Arizona (13.9), North Carolina (13.4), Washington (13.0) and SouthCarolina (12.6) in growth.

While Oregon has been among the perennial leaders in housing growth aroundthe country for several years, the number of people moving into the stateis expected to gradually drop, said David Griffiths, senior economist withthe state Office of Economic Analysis.

We think population and migration may be slowing slightly,Griffiths said. With the resurgence of California and the price ofhousing in other states, we think that housing growth, while remaining relativelystrong, will probably be starting to drop off a little bit.

Statistics show that Californians, who flocked to high-paying high-techjobs in Oregon the past few years, are beginning to find jobs at home, Griffithssaid.

Housing starts in Oregon have been on the decline. In 1994, 19 percentmore new homes were built than the year before. But last year marked onlya 6.1 increase over 1995.

New homes cover the hillside in Eagle Trace subdivision in East Medford. - Photo by Steve Johnson</P