In a non-scientific Sunday Poll two years ago, just over half the respondents thought the city’s population would decline in the 2020 census. In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll I asked about the city AND county population.
Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis (city) AND St. Louis County will both lose population in the 2020 Census.
- Strongly agree 6 [16.67%]
- Agree 8 [22.22%]
- Somewhat agree 8 [22.22%]
- Neither agree or disagree 0 [0%]
- Somewhat disagree 6 [16.67%]
- Disagree 6 [16.67%]
- Strongly disagree 1 [2.78%]
- Unsure/No Answer 1 [2.78%]
More than 60% think both city & county will lose population when the next census is held in 3 years. I agree.
The factors that led to the declines in both remain — the county had its first decline in 2010. Since the 2010 census St. Charles County has continued to grow. school districts are struggling to keep pace with more students. The middle class continues to leave St. Louis County for St. Charles County and the city’s poor continue to move to St. Louis County for better schools & housing.
It was very different 55 years ago, as noted by a 2013 STL 250 Facebook post:
This Day in St. Louis History, March 15, 1962:
St. Louis County overtakes St. Louis City in population
The American Statistical Association’s St. Louis Chapter Metropolitan Census Committee listed the population of St. Louis County as 762,000, and the population of St. Louis City at 740,000. For the first time in history, the population of St. Louis County exceeded that of St. Louis City. The recent creation of the Interstate Highway System would drastically change the lives of American cities forever, with St. Louis taking a particularly extreme stance as those with means fled outwards from the center. St. Louis County’s population had begun rising steadily around the turn of the century, but in the post-World War II years, it jumped with shocking speed. From 1950 to 1960, the population of St. Louis County jumped from 406,349 to 703,532. Meanwhile, St. Louis City had experienced its first population loss in history in the 1960 census. Dark days were still ahead… from 1970 – 1980, St. Louis City would lose 27% of its population.
In the 1947 Comprehensive Plan Harland Bartholomew had predicted St. Louis’ population would reach 900k by 1970:
The City of St. Louis can anticipate a population of 900,000 persons by 1970, based on these assumptions:
- That the population of the St. Louis Metropolitan District continues to maintain its present proportion to total urban population of the United States.
- That an attractive environment for living will be developed throughout the city to counteract current decentralization trends.
- That the city is, nevertheless, a maturing urban center that can never expect to attain the tremendous past growth of certain earlier periods.
Bartholomew knew the big population increases wouldn’t happen, but he still anticipated modest gains in 1960 & 1970 — not the huge losses that actually occurred. I’ll be highly surprised if both city & county don’t show continued loss of residents.
— Steve Patterson