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 2020||Change from 2010|
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?
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.
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.
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.)
Population Density: Ok, who cares? But, while Jefferson is one of the least densely populated counties, PT is quite …. ummm…. dense.
|Land Area Sq. Miles||Population per square mile|
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-occupied||Median value 2020|
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.
|Households||Persons per household|
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 Grad||BA degree or higher|
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.
|County||Median household income||Per capita income||Poverty rate|
Health: An aging population translates to more people with disabilities, but fewer people living without health insurance.
In future articles we hope to explore these numbers in greater detail.