As the nation’s first African American president prepares to take office this week, metro Portland — with its overwhelmingly white population and leadership — is demographically out of step with 2009 America.
Among the nation’s 40 largest metro areas, only four — none of them in the West — are whiter than Portland, new census figures show.
Longtime residents of metro Portland, particularly in Washington County and Gresham, talk a lot about how much racial change has come to their communities. And it has.
But since 2000, growth rates among Portland’s small minority populations have slowed from the 1990s. In the same period, more than 100,000 additional non-Hispanic whites have flocked to the Portland area. The whitest suburb — Clark County outside Vancouver — alone added 53,000 white residents.
The upshot is that the Portland metro area is startlingly white viewed against the national landscape — even whiter than Salt Lake City, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates. Metro Portland includes Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas and Clark counties.