After a brief period of population loss following the recession in the early 1980s, Region 4 has seen generally slow but steady growth (Graph 1). Since 1980, the region has grown from roughly 193,780 residents to 251,115, adding 57,335 residents and growing 30 percent. Population growth since 1980 has been well below the statewide growth (+47%) in each of the region's counties. Benton County had the slowest growth rate in the region, with a population increase of 26 percent from 1980 to 2012. Lincoln County and Linn County both grew by 31 percent during the same time (Graph 2).
Despite the recent recession and slow economic growth since the late 1990s, Region 4's population continues to grow. While population growth was especially strong in central Oregon and the Portland metro area, Region 4's has generally been slower than other regions of the state.
From July 1, 2011, to July 1, 2012, the state's population grew 0.7 percent, matching Region 4's growth of 0.7 percent. Lincoln County's growth for the year was 0.3 percent, with the population adding 140 people. Benton County's population expanded 0.9 percent and Linn County's population grew 0.6 percent.
The largest city in the region is Corvallis in Benton County, with a 2012 population of 55,055. Coming in a distant second in Benton County is Philomath, with a population of 4,620. Albany, in Linn and Benton counties, is the region's second-largest city, with a population of 50,710. Other large cities in Linn County include Lebanon (15,660) and Sweet Home (9,025). On the coast, Newport is the largest city in Lincoln County, with a population of 10,150. Not far behind is Lincoln City, with a population of 7,965.