Salem is a city located in Marion County and Polk County Oregon. Salem has a 2023 population of 181,620. It is also the county seat of Marion County.Salem is currently growing at a rate of 1.09% annually and its population has increased by 3.31% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 175,806 in 2020.
The average household income in Salem is $82,450 with a poverty rate of 14.72%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to - per month, and the median house value is -. The median age in Salem is 35.7 years, 34.4 years for males, and 36.9 years for females.
The city’s top employer is the State of Oregon, which provides over 21,000 jobs. The Salem-Keizer School District, Salem Health, Chemeketa Community College and Marion County are other top employers in Salem, each providing thousands of jobs to residents.
Salem has seen continuous and steady growth since its founding. By 1900, the population exceeded 4,000 people. At the time of the next census in 1910, this number had risen to over 14,000 and had almost doubled just 20 years later. In 1970, the population reached over 68,0000 and in 1990 surpassed 100,000. Recent estimates show that the current population count is up 8.3% since the last census was taken in 2010, indicating that this city will continue to see steady growth well into its future.
Salem has been inhabited for over 10,000 years, according to estimates. When the Europeans first arrived at the land that is now Salem, the Kalapuya people occupied the area. The region was known initially as Chim-i-ki-ti until the Methodist Mission came to the city and named it Chemeketa. After the establishment of the Oregon Institute, it was merely called the Institute.
After the dissolution of the Institute, a townsite was laid out by trustees. The town name selected was Salem, although some wanted it to remain Chemeketa. When the territorial capital was moved from Oregon City in 1851, Salem became the new capital until 1855, when it was moved again to Corvallis. However, later that year, Salem was named as the capital again. Salem was incorporated as a city just two years later and before the end of the decade was designated as the state capital.
Salem’s first capitol building was erected in 1855 but burned down just two months later. Another capitol building was developed in 1876 but also burned down in 1935. The third capitol building, which is still in use today, was completed in 1938.
The city’s economy initially revolved around agriculture, which remains vital to the marketplace today. Specifically, Salem has had a thriving cherry-growing industry which gave it the nickname “Cherry City.” The city was selected as the site of the Oregon State Fair and the annual cherry festival. Today, the city is a major food processing center and is home to Kettle Foods, NORPAC Foods and Oregon Fruit Products, Inc.
The city is also home to many universities and other higher education institutes, including Willamette University and Corban University. The largest employer in Salem is the state government, although as previously mentioned agriculture is still critical to the economy. In the 1990s, tech manufacturing plants made their way to the city. Today, Salem has taken on multiple projects to increase housing in the downtown area as well as to add office space to the growing city.
According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Salem was:
Two or more races
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Black or African American
Average Family Size
Average Household Size
Rate of Home Ownership
Less Than 9th Grade
9th to 12th Grade
High School Graduate
High School Graduation Rate
The highest rate of high school graduation is among white people with a rate of 83.08%.
The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 38.46%.
Other Indo-European Languages
Asian and Pacific Island Languages
78.35% of Salem residents speak only English, while 21.65% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 15.59% of the population.
Overall Poverty Rate
Male Poverty Rate
Female Poverty Rate
The race most likely to be in poverty in Salem is Black, with 26.64% below the poverty level.
The race least likely to be in poverty in Salem is White, with 11.72% below the poverty level.
The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 3.25%. Among those working part-time, it was 16.64%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 23.95%.
Overall Marriage Rate
Male Marriage Rate
Female Marriage Rate
The age group where males are most likely to be married is Over 65, while the female age group most likely to be married is 35-44.
Second Gulf War
First Gulf War
World War II
Less Than 9th Grade
High School Graduate
Bachelors or Greater
Veteran Poverty Rate
Veteran Disability Rate
Labor Force Participation
Non citizens include legal permanent residents (green card holders), international students, temporary workers, humanitarian migrants, and illegal immigrants.
Born in Salem
92.78% of Salem residents were born in the United States, with 52.94% having been born in Oregon. 7.27% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Latin America.