History Hinders Diversification of Portland
by Amelia Templeton
Economists say unemployment is high in Portland and wages are low. But the city is still attracting young, white professionals from the Northeast and Midwest.
... The city's entire population is growing, but Portland is still about 80 percent white, making it one of the most homogeneous metropolitan cities in the country. Many of the migrants don't have jobs, kids or a mortgage. So why do they keep coming? ...
"Talent is becoming more concentrated in some cities and moving away from other cities," says Joe Cortright, an economist standing in the rain at the food cart.
Twenty years ago, the percent of people with college degrees in Portland was lower than the national average. Now, it's more than 10 points higher - about 40 percent. And Cortright says the grads aren't just coming for high-tech jobs.
"People in the Portland metropolitan area are more likely to be engaged in almost any form of outdoor recreation," he says. "We have more microbreweries than any other city in the United States."
Turns out the stereotypes about Portland are largely true.
"I do a lot of homebrewing and I've got an amazing number of folks who are into that scene," says John Sterm, a young attorney grabbing food at a Korean food cart. Sterm moved to Portland from Oklahoma.
"Biking to work and knowing that so many of my friends and peers are in that community and that culture is great," he adds.
... While Portland companies have a great pool of talent to draw on, it's not a diverse pool. Portland is still about 80 percent white.