‘Wake-up call’: St. Louis faces dimming prospects absent new efforts to draw population

(St. Louis Post Dispatch, Jacob Barker)

Growth in St. Louis’ central corridor has failed to offset the exodus elsewhere in the urban core. Black St. Louisans, especially, have left in droves, most quitting north St. Louis, which over the last decade continued to slide as investment waned and people moved to the suburbs or other cities.

The region’s namesake city, with a population of just 301,578 in the 2020 census, is dragging down overall growth. Its loss of nearly 18,000 people over the last decade was the most among the metro area’s 15 counties, offsetting a chunk of the nearly 45,000 new residents in suburban St. Charles County. The Metro East — the eight Illinois counties that are part of the metro area — also lost about 21,000 people, while St. Louis County, the region’s largest county, was mostly flat, remaining just above 1 million residents.

The bottom line is that while the St. Louis region did add people over the last decade, the growth was anemic: 1.2% overall, or just 32,500 people, to 2.8 million. St. Louis, which dropped out of the top 20 metro areas for the first time, saw slower growth, on a percentage basis, than all but three of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas: Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Hartford, Connecticut.

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