The 2020 Census numbers are collated and crunched and – guess what? – Port Townsend is still old and getting older.

If there was such thing as a demographic profile of PT and Jefferson County, she would be a white woman, pushing 60, college-educated, who lives alone or with her spouse in a home that was worth $350,000 a couple years ago.

But that profile would miss some more unsettling statistics, including fewer kids, an imbalance of low household income and high housing costs, and a poverty rate 50 percent higher than the statewide rate.

So let’s take things one at a time. The following tables summarize 2020 Census data for Port Townsend and for Jefferson County (including PT) plus, for purposes of comparison, Clallam County and statewide.

Population: From 2010 to 2020, Port Townsend and Jefferson County grew by about 9 percent – slightly more than Clallam, but lower than the statewide rate of 12.7 percent.  

Population 2020Change from 2010
Port Townsend10148+8.8%
Jefferson County32977+9.6%
Clallam County77155+7.4%
Washington State7705281+12.7%
Data from State/Federal Census

Age: Jeffco’s median age (half the population is older and half is younger) is 59 years.  That makes Jefferson the oldest county in the state, and one of the oldest in the US.   Port Townsend is slightly lower at 56 years. So we are nearly a generation older than the rest of Washington. At the other end, fewer and fewer of us are kids. Just 11.8 percent of Jefferson’s population is under 18, compared to 21.8 percent statewide. An aging population brings a range of consequences for housing, health care, schools and employment — some of which we explored in an earlier posting Senior city? Why should we care?

Chart by Rainshadow Staff

Race and ethnicity: Port Townsend is overwhelmingly white, 93.1 percent compared to 67.5 percent statewide.  African Americans make up just 1 percent of the county population, with 4 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Asian and 2% Native American.

BlackHispanicAsianNative AmericanWhite
Port Townsend.9%4.1%1.6%1.1%93.1%
Jefferson County1.1%3.8%2.0%2.2%88.2%
Clallam County1.2%6.6%1.9%5.6%82.4%
Washington State4.4%13.0%9.6%.8%67.5%

Gender: Women in Jeffco outnumber men by 1800, enough to fill the Rose Theater 11 times.  (To our knowledge, this has never happened.)   Jefferson is 52.7 percent women, compared to 49.9 percent statewide.

Port Townsend52.7%
Jefferson County51.1%
Clallam County50.6%
Washington State49.9%
Percentage Women

Business ownership:  More PT businesses are owned by women than by men.  (The gender columns don’t add up because the total also includes firms owned by gender ambiguous corporations.)

Chart by Rainshadow Staff

Population Density:  Ok, who cares?  But, while Jefferson is one of the least densely populated counties, PT is quite …. ummm…. dense.

Land Area Sq. MilesPopulation per square mile
Port Townsend6.981305.80
Jefferson County1,80316.6
Clallam County1,73841.1
Washington State66,455101.2

Housing: Port Townsend’s rate of home ownership is the same as the statewide rate, but Jeffco’s is higher.  This reflects more apartment rentals in PT than in county communities such as Kala Point or Cape George.   Home values are rising so fast that the median value may be meaningless, but a couple years ago they were close to the statewide median.

Percent owner-occupiedMedian value 2020
Port Townsend62.4%$352,400
Jefferson County15051$362,300
Clallam County33197$267,900
Washington State2,905,822$366,800

Household size:  This is simple division – population divided by the number of homes.  With a rate of 1.90, Port Townsend’s rate is one of the state’s lowest – few kids and lots of single-person households. 


HouseholdsPersons per household
Port Townsend50391.90
Jefferson County150512.06
Clallam County331972.27
Washington State2,905,8222.53

Education level:  Nearly 54 percent of Port Townsend residents have a college degree, one of the highest rates in the state, almost twice the rate of Clallam County – a difference that reflects the number of retirees here.

                     Percent HS grad/    BA degree or higher

Jefferson County           96.3%     42.5%   

Port Townsend             98.7%     53.8% 

Clallam County              92.1%     28.8%    

Washington State         91.7%     36.7%

Percentage HS GradBA degree or higher
Port Townsend96.3%42.5%
Jefferson County98.7%53.8%
Clallam County92.1%28.8%
Washington State91.7%36.7%

Income: Median incomes in the city and county are much lower than statewide. This probably reflects income & investments of mostly-secure pensioners. In addition, we are a rural county that is reliant on tourism, natural resources, a paper mill, hospital and other non-technical work compared with high earned tech incomes in Seattle and other urban areas. On the other end, however, Port Townsend’s 14.2 percent poverty rate is 50 percent greater than the statewide rate.

CountyMedian household incomePer capita incomePoverty rate
Port Townsend$53,690$38,91514.2%
Jefferson County$57,693$38,17610.6%
Clallam County$55,090$31,60113.3%
Washington State$77,006$40,8379.5%

Health: An aging population translates to more people with disabilities, but fewer people living without health insurance.

Port Townsend11.3%6.1%
Jefferson County10.8%8.6%
Clallam County13.5%9.7%
Washington State8.8%7.7%
Persons Under 65 with disability/ with no health insurance

In future articles we hope to explore these numbers in greater detail.


  1. Thanks so much for this report. I have been wondering if PT broke the 10,000 mark and so, it seems, we have. So glad to know that you are here and still reporting!

  2. The biggest problem Jefferson County has had in the last 50 or so years is making it possible for young people to live in the community they grew up in. Most can’t find a job so cannot afford to live here. What a pity. Another statistic that would be interesting is how many older residents have been in the same house for many years because they can’t afford to move anywhere else. Their homes they bought in the 1970s and 1980s are worth a lot more, so they stay because they love the area and they have a home paid for. Some seniors have to sell their homes in order to afford long term care. The idea of living in the home is the ideal solutions but who’s going to care for them. One of the things I love about Jefferson County is people are so giving and friendly. I would hate for the town to turn into a over 55 community. (or has it already?) Young people keep us involved in what’s happening in the world. I get tired of talking about my aches and pains.

  3. Thanks for another great analysis Ross! I’d love to write more family history and other research but am always swamped.

  4. An enlightening and entertaining look at us. I hope you do drill down on the portion of our people who live in poverty. Wouldn’t it be great if this community could turn that number around.

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