Recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that the population loss in St. Louis is accelerating, especially in St. Louis County, and in the city of St. Louis.
The bureau reported that the population of the region fell by 0.4% or more than 11000 people between 2021 and 2022 to 2,801,319. Regionally, the decline was 0.23 percent from 2020 to 2021. The metro's population growth in the 2020 census ranked it 47th among the 50 largest U.S. regions.
The Bureau estimated that the population of St. Louis County declined by 0.78% between 2021 and 2022 to 990 414. This is more than the decline of 0.48% from 2020 to the year 2021. The city's population decreased by 2.38% between 2021 and 2022 to 286,578, which is worse than the 2.3% drop the previous year.
Ness Sandoval is an associate professor of demography and sociology at Saint Louis University. He said that the new figures were higher than expected. There are an unprecedented number of people who have left the region. I don't believe anyone (anticipated) it to be that high.
According to data from the Bureau, eight of the fifteen counties that comprise the metro area experienced a population decline between 2021 and 2022. The losses ranged from 0.39% up to 2.38%.
The rate of population decline in four other metro counties, including St. Louis County, the city and Bond, Calhoun and Madison counties in Illinois, has increased from the previous estimate. Other counties experienced a variety of outcomes such as growth rates that remained the same or slowed down. St. Charles County, for example, saw a population increase from 2020 to 2030 of 1.02%, increasing from a 0.80% increase from 2021-2022.
Only two counties, Jefferson County (up 0.44% between 2020 and 2021) and Franklin County (up 0.62% between 2021 and 2022, to 229,336), have seen growth rates rise -- Jefferson, from a rate of growth of 0.45% (between 2020 and 2021) to 0.52% (between 2021 and 2022, to 105,879).
According to estimates, the population of the region is decreasing.
Sandoval stated that if you lose 15,000, 20.000, or 25,000 people per year, it will add up in 20 years. "As demographers, we are interested in the next year and following year - what do these numbers mean if we adopt a laissez faire approach?" What does this mean for St. Louis by 2040? "If nothing changes, the news is bad for the city and region."
The problem stems from the fact that births are outnumbered by deaths.
Census data shows that between April 1, 2021 and July 1, 2022 there was a 2,714-person natural population decline. Nearly 33,000 people in the St. Louis metro area died, but only 30,000 babies were born, according to census figures. Demographers refer to it as a "demographic Winter."
Births will continue to outnumber deaths in the St. Louis area until 2021 when deaths will surpass births for the first ever time.
The chart below shows the change in population for the 15 counties that make up the St. Louis metro area from 2020 to both 2021 and 2022.
The data in this article comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s release of March 2023. This release only included data by state and county, so the U.S. Census Bureau was unable to provide data for the entire St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The Census Bureau released numbers that "incorporate the 2020 Census, Vintage 2020 Estimates, and 2020 Demographic Analysis Estimates" and "adds births, subtracts deaths, and adds Net Migration to the April 1, 2020 estimated base."
The Business Journal defines the metro area as: St. Louis and St. Charles counties, the city of St. Louis and Warren, Franklin, Franklin, Warren and Jefferson counties, in Missouri. In Illinois, St. Clair and Madison counties, as well as Clinton, Calhoun and Macoupin counties, Bond, Monroe, Madison and Madison counties, are included.