Residents Flee St. Louis, Especially North City, Over Last Decade

Jim Salter

ST. LOUIS (AP) – St. Louis is losing residents, according to U.S. Census figures released Thursday, and the population decline goes deeper than being another blow to the proud city’s image.

The drop will mean a financial loss that could cost the already cash-strapped Gateway City millions of dollars.

Figures from the 2010 census were a bitter disappointment, as the city’s population dipped to 319,294.

That’s down more than 29,000 — a staggering 8 percent — from 2000.

For St. Louis leaders, the news was doubly disappointing because they were expecting to see an increase.

“It is absolutely bad news,” Mayor Francis Slay said. “We thought after more than 50 years of population decline that the city had finally changed direction. Obviously, that’s not the case.”

The census numbers are more than an ego shot to a community already fighting an image of high crime and poorly performing schools.

Federal funding for many of the city’s programs is tied to population.

“It will mean a significant loss in federal dollars over the next 10 years,” Slay said.

St. Louis was the nation’s eighth-largest city with a population of 856,795 in 1950. Now, for a couple of decades, it hasn’t even been Missouri’s largest city.

Kansas City’s population grew to 460,000 in the latest census, widening the gap over St. Louis, though the St. Louis metro area remains significantly larger.

Since the mid-20th century, the exodus of St. Louis residents to the suburbs has been startling. And people keep moving farther away from the urban core. St. Louis County lost population in 2010 for the first time, down 1.7 percent to 998,954 in 2010, as residents relocate to communities like St. Charles, O’Fallon, Wentzville and Troy.

“This is a time for an urgent rethinking of how we do everything as a region,” Slay said. “If this doesn’t jump-start a discussion about the city re-entering the county and how we start thinking more as a region, nothing will.”

St. Louis is unique in that it is its own county.

St. Louis city and St. Louis County are completely separate entities.

Slay said that leads to redundancies of service that are unnecessary.

Steven S. Smith, a public policy professor at Washington University in St. Louis, agrees that something needs to change.

“The challenges are really quite substantial,” Smith said.

“How do you attract business? How do you maintain neighborhoods? How do you prevent continuing decay and abandonment which, when it gets to a certain point, leads to a downward spiral?”

A census estimate on July 1, 2009, forecasted that the city’s population of 348,189 in 2000 had grown to 356,587.

Either the estimate was wrong or there has been a substantial recent exodus.

The 2010 census is based on the population in April 2010.

Slay said the city was hurting from the recession, with some residents displaced, perhaps hard to find.

Still, he said, that doesn’t account for such a steep decline.

The mayor said the ongoing struggles of the city school district are a big part of the problem.

“A lot of families are leaving the city for better educational opportunities, especially public education opportunities,” Slay said.

Increasingly, they’re moving further and further out.

Jefferson County saw its population increase 10.4 percent to 218,733.

St. Charles County’s population continues to rise sharply, up 27 percent to 360,485.

The fastest growing counties are on the far outreaches of the St. Louis metro area — Lincoln County grew 35 percent and Warren County 32.6 percent.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press

  • Ed Golterman

    Something needs to change? Something needed tg change 20 years ago Mr. Professor. You don’t know what the something is, you dont know what should have changed and why, and you don’t know what can be done now, and neither does Slay.

    • strongteamaker


      St. Louis should change its name to Detroit, Mo. It will soon look like Detroit. When will that arch get destroyed by the new Americans.

      • Luke

        There is basicly no Illegals in St. Louis so my guess is this guy is another glen beck or michael moore fan (both fake idiots that dont really care about anything other then making money) if you were from st louis you would know its not like chicago or any other city in the us we have a very small illegal alien and or hispanic population. by the way remember ronald regan was the last president to give amnesty to the mexican illegals.

      • alan geezer

        Hang a piñata from it .

      • M J

        You don’t know what you are talking about. Don’t knock our Arch. Where do you live anyway?

      • M J

        Please disregard the post I left above. The person the comment was for is gone. I guess his comment was deleted. Have a great day!

    • denise

      When a city has a city government and a county government, public unions are the problem. The union bosses are sucking money from both places, making it hard to get anything done. Wake up public union workers, your union bosses are sucking out the core of your city. It is Detroit, they just needs a few more years.

      • patches12

        Correctd Denise… public Unions are basically money laundering outfits for the Democrats

        Taxpayers pay the public servant, the servants are all unionized, they pay dues to the Union which in turn pays big chunks of money to the Democrat party….

        costs continue to go up REGARDLESS of revenues…. smart people move out where taxes are lower.

    • John

      Why do people tiptoe around the fact that where there is a high concentration of blacks and other minorities, there is an inevitable increase in crime and deterioration of the school systems. The next step, of course, is the flight of the law abiding and educated to the hinterlands. Where are the leaders of the black community to take the bull by the horns and to get to the black parents to instill good values in their children. Forget the self-serving bluster of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and get into your communities and educate those shiftless, uneducated parents; and stop blaming “society”.

      • John Wimberly


    • anthony perone

      In 1970 we were filming in East St Louis at the arch. EVEN THEN….we needed armed security guards to protect the crew. America has let St Louis rot and its shameful. We have never learned to cope with desperate poverty….I saw it there.

  • Paul Savko

    Ah, yes! A few more entitlements and fewer industries don’t help the flight. No one wants to addres the crime statistics for St Louis… hmmmmm..

    • Jack Kinch(1uncle)

      People are fleeing Libya and St. Louis for their safety.

    • John Marmaduke

      The only reason the crime statistic is so bad is because the statistic doesn’t have the county included in it, unlike every other major city. St. Louis gets unfairly represented in that statistic.

      • Jack Kinch(1uncle)

        Overrun with ‘born on welfare’ demos.

      • oracle2world

        The crime statistic IS bad. If it is only for St. Louis city, even more accurate.

      • strongteamaker


        Look out St. Luis, Camden is working hard to recapture its Crime Crown for 2011. NJ is planning to have a Crime Crown commemarative license plate announcing their pride of number one in something other than taxes.

      • denise

        If it had the county added to it, the numbers would be worse. Boo Hoo, St. Louis gets unfairly treated, acceptance comes with the first step. If you want to safe your city, get rid of the entrenched unions, lower your business taxes and your city will thrive within ten years. Oh and get rid of the democrat leaders.

      • Iratebobby

        If you read the story you would understand that the city is its own county. “St. Louis is unique in that it is its own county.”

        Therefore the city crime stats are the county crime stats. That makes you wrong. You sound like the city and county leaders who are shocked at the population decline but have done nothing to fix the problem. The crime rates are horrendous and all you do is pass on mis-information to deflect the correct information. You live in a hell hole run into the ground by liberal democrat leadership. They and you are two peas in the pod. St Louis will never rise until the governing liberal mentality is run out of town.

      • Joe Phillips

        Baloney. The problem is the neighborhoods I grew up in and used to travel around are not safe for white people or black people. The apologists and excusers have created a jungle. Busing started it, lax crime control continued it, and the race baiters thrive on it.

  • Gary

    Slay wants the county’s tax base. That simple. Why not offer incentives for businesses to return? How about tax breaks. How about cleaning up the corruption that is so evident each election cycle when the Dems pull all of their tricks?

    • Ximena

      Dems remind me of the Sandinista party during elections. They go door to door telling you everything you want to hear, they give you a sack of rice and beans to prove they want to help you feed your family, they convince the ignorant that they are the ones that care for them and will help them get what they need, fight for their education, and then once it’s all said and done, they raise your taxes, cut your programs, and leave you with nothing but, they are so polite about it that you don’t know what hit and you don’t realize that everything they promised is completely beyond their reach, it’s all a scam to get votes. They don’t care if you have someone else’s ID, why do you think the illegals love them so much? The Sandinistas will use your dead family to vote for them, it’s the same concept.

      • davec

        Apparently youve seen the Sandinistas up close and personal. Thanks for the post.

      • sylvia

        Holy Smokes Ximena, do you have the Democrat Party’s number. You are dead on right about this political party, too bad a segment of our society are either too stupid or have their hands out hoping to receive something for nothing from this party instead of taking advantage of the resource richness of this wonderful country in order to achieve a good living on their own.

      • denise

        Its the PUBLIC UNIONS(who work for the taxpayer)who vote to get into office their people, who then write the bills to raise their wages, pensions and benefits, while the taxpayer is losing his pension, benefits and the taxpayers wages are stagnant. Please stop voting for public workers, they are not your friend.

      • Steve

        And Denver

  • Frank

    St Louis is not unique in being a city/county. San Franciso is also a city/county government. And yes, they are separate redundant governments too.

    • MWalters

      You are not understanding. The information is that St. Louis is the only city in the United States that does not exist within a County.
      St. Louis County stops at the City’s edge, and the city does not reside within a County. No other place in US is this way.
      Should make for less “redundancy”, but the corruption between Slay and Unions, and Democrats is the major cause of their problems. I am surprised that Monsanto, Nooter, and A-B has not moved out of the city already.

      • Lou Gots

        That’s wrong. Philadelphia is the same way–City and county are consolidated.. Philadelphia is still a pretty good place to live. We have crime bot it’s tolerable. We have a good mayor. D.A. and Police chief, so people have faith in City Hall. Obvoiusly, that is not the case in St Louis.

    • Steve

      God, you people are completely not getting it. St. Louis City is not merged with St. Louis County like Nashville-Davidson, Indianapolis-and whatever County it’s within. St. Louis City is a completely separate entity from St. Louis County. The city is not within the county, it’s not merged, none of that. St. Louis City has 319,000 people. St. Louis County has 998,000 people. When you hear about St. Louis, you’re usually hearing about St. Louis City.

    • karen

      And Baltimore

      • Jed

        Nope, Baltimore City and Baltimore County are two separate regions and political entities.

      • Ron

        And Indianapolis

      • Former St Louisan

        Ron, Indianapolis/Marion County runs under a UniGov system so as many services as possible are not duplicated. Police/Sheriff’s Department being one of the most recent conversions into one command. There are some exceptions such as Fire Districts and Schools, but no duplicity in these areas.
        Jacksonville and Louisville are similar.
        St Louis City just wants to maintain the Nepotism for their families. If the County was allowed a say in the city, South & West county voters wouldn’t be putting up with their sh!t and you’d actually get some qualified Mayors in there that care more about the city than the city’s largesse..

      • degintn

        and nashville,tn

    • F.R. Duplantier

      And New Orleans.

      • YoYo

        and Louisville

      • Mark Hallenberg

        and Atlanta, Philly, Cincinnati…

      • legalpanther

        @Mark Hallenberg:

        Cincinnati is not both a city and a county. Hamilton County is the county in which Cincinnati sits. However, there are many other cities and townships that are also in Hamilton County but outside of Cincinnati: for instance, Cheviot, Norwood (I know this city is completely surrounded by Cincinnati, but is its own city nonetheless), Delhi Township, Green Township, etc. It is true that Cincinnati is the biggest, it is not the only.

    • Vicki K

      and Jacksonville, FL….

      Anyone else notice a pattern here?

      • Pitbullll

        Want your city to be a ghetto? Vote Democrat.

        The pattern is apparent for all to see. Every city, county and state around the country run for any significant period of time by Democrats is broke, poverty stricken, crime ridden and overly unionized.

        GET A CLUE.

      • Bostonsane

        Jacksonville city is not separate from it’s county. Quite the opposite.,_Florida. Just saying . I really would be scared to move back to St Louis with the obvious racists posting comments here. Yikes!

      • Joe Citizen

        No…help me…what is the pattern here?

      • Vicki K

        Consolidated governments are forced to spread limited resources evenly across the board and can’t take into account differing values & demographics like small, autonomous townships could do. With no safe neighborhoods left, the intelligent/law-abiding citizens leave the area, bada-bing – instant ghetto!

      • Jeff Schwandt

        Actually, Jacksonville, FL and Duval county are fully consolidated. St. Louis (the city) is completely separate from St. Louis County. No doubt the legacy of a power struggle & pride from decades past.

    • henry

      And Philadelphia

      • Mark Hallenberg

        all headed for the likes of Detroit – the best example of politically-correct progressive liberal government.

    • Dennis

      But San Franciso doesn’t have a city income tax! I have to think that tax is part of the problem.

  • steve

    I wonder if the city of St. Louis is controled by conservative Republicans?
    No I guess not.

    • M J

      Mayor Slay is actually a pretty good mayor, a relatively conservative democrat. Unfortunately by the time he came into office things had already gotten pretty bad. He is probably the best leader they could hope to elect. He does not have a lot to work with.

      By the way, most citizens of St. Louis County do not want to merge with the City.

      • Captain Obvious

        A “conservative democrat”? Boy that’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one.

      • St. Louis U

        No just a moron.

    • Josh

      St Louis was last controlled by a republican mayor in 1949. St Louis has lost over 60% of its population since 1950. Weird.

      • denise

        Isn’t it. When did the public unions start?

  • Joseph

    It’s no wonder people are fleeing the sump hole that is St Louis. It has been run by the Democrats for so many years and they have FAILED abysmally here as they have each and every time they have been allowed to run things.

    just look at the States with the biggest deficits and highest levels of unemployment and you will see they are ALL run by and have been run by Liberals.


      Just like Cleveland Ohio and Detroit.40 years of buying elections by the unions !

  • Mark Pujols

    I guess some people fear murder and rape. Who knew???

    • Tony LaRussa

      Hehe…… true. But as long as they keep promoting basketball and hip hop, peace will endure. ;-). Disgraceful

  • M J

    School choice would have stabilized neighborhoods and mitigated or even halted much of the decline. But oh, no the teachers unions and the anti-Catholic bigots would have none of that. This is what happens when you let the teachers unions and the public school only radicals have their way.

  • JamesS

    Nothing, of course, in the story about what the exodus is really about. The press and politicians are unwilling to address it much less name it. So it will go unfixed. And it does not really matter. The productive class will produce elsewhere. And St. Louis will be left with what they will not speak or even whisper. St. Louis can look to Detroit for a glimpse of the future.

    • Detroit Chris

      As a resident of Southeast Michigan, just north of Detroit, I hope you are wrong. The corruption and waste have been around so long it could take generations to reverse the damage.

      All that’s left in Detroit is the welfare class who only votes for those politicians who promise more government programs and the Democrats at the state level have been too afraid to say no. Although that seems to be changing.

      Three Step Process to recovery
      1. Eliminate the Corruption – Open books, bidding and hiring records, and convict the guilty.
      2. Dramatically Reduce Social Programs – They’ll move to someplace that will give them more.
      3. Privatize Everything – No Unions, No Government Pensions or Lifetime Healthcare.

      • Mark Hallenberg


    • Art

      Right on, and until we can frankly talk about the problem it will never be fixed. I wonder who will go to zero first East St Louis or St Louis.

  • Charles Herriitt

    The reason for the decline is HUD!!!

  • wagonhoe

    “Well it’s too late baby yeah it’s too late…” People needed to be getting serious more than a decade ago and now it’s too late Saint Louis has been lost.
    Here come those questions OH How do you attract business? OH How do you maintain neighborhoods? OH How do you prevent continuing decay and abandonment…? Well make it illegal to leave Saint Louis since it is socially irresponsible or worse than irresponsible, and put up a wall to keep people in.
    The policy status quo is here and there is nowhere else for the status quo to go unless for instance we subsidize, nationalize and move up to a brave new future away from property rights and the freedoms from the old Constitution in general.

    • Pedro, el Capitan

      If you’re advocating that St. Louis move more aggressively toward socialism/marxism and away from the ‘freedoms from the old Constitution’, I’m perplexed. Do you really think this will work? And do you really think productive people will accept the yoke of more government and less freedom. StL is already a bastion of entitlements and freebies, and has been a Democratic / socialist haven for decades. The result? A city that takes more than it produces, an environment growing more ripe for crime daily.

      St. Louis and its entitlement aproach has allowed many of it’s citizens to become dependent and weak. StL needs to adopt another way — you sir are not part of that bright new way. You represent the cancer that is reducing StL to a shell of its former glory — by the numbers, by the data. If you disagree, you aren’t disagreeing with me; you’re arguing with mathematics (the city continues to diminish) — a fools errand.

      • F.R. Duplantier

        I believe wagonhoe was being facetious.

      • bunky

        Sarcasm, el Capitan, sarcasm.

    • F.R. Duplantier

      Serf City?
      Many big-city mayors and their urban-planning courtiers envision a solution to the alleged problem of “sprawl” that would, in effect, reestablish the serfdom of the Middle Ages. In the authoritarian fantasies of these self-flattering fatheads, servile city dwellers would be permanently bound to town homes and would require the seldom-granted permission of hizzoner in order to exurbate themselves. The sovereign of such a dopey utopia could ignore the thieving thuggery on his crumbling streets and raise taxes to 50, 75, or 100 percent, even higher! No longer permitted to participate in the peripatetic poll, those pesky peons would be stuck in the city! They would be subject to him, not vice versa. Ah yes, the Middle Ages — called fondly to mind by would-be lords, less fondly by their designated vassals.

  • steve

    The Democrooks could stop stealing everything from everyone inside the city limits.
    That might help.
    Of course pigs might grow wings and fly like eagles too.
    But that probably won’t happen either.

  • spoutinghorn

    I think St. Louis needs to tax the rich even more. This will lead to an increase in government programs, and all the freeloaders will flock to the city!

  • DL

    This is simple: the Black community needs to begin acting like civil, responsible, human beings and quit destroying their neighborhoods. Who wants to move to a crime infested neighborhood ran by thug drug dealers? Who wants to open a business, only to be held up at gunpoint once a year? Don’t sugar coat this or hide behind the race card…this is a Black issue! Take responsibility and correct your promblems! We’ll continue to give you money, food stamps, and other social entitlements, but it’s up to you to act right. It’s not a racist statement if it’s TRUE!

    • Showme

      My, my DL. I guess the truth hurts sometimes. Eh?


    Yes We Can Build A


    • james4usa

      Oooooop’s I thought genius, work ethic and a DNA more evolved than within 3% of Ocean Invertebrate, were our strengths.

    • Browns44

      You want diversity? How about electing a Republican government, that would be diversity wouldn’t it? For the past 60 years St. Louis has been a one party (DEM) government with no voice of opposition or contrast of views.
      This is no different than the other cities in the rust belt, same party in contro,l same demographics, same issues with the public school performance, same level of Union support of the status quo.

      • Hank

        Well said. To the left, diversity is code for giving more taxpayer dollars to ‘minority’ groups even though they take the lion’s share as it is.

    • C_M_I

      Funny, tried to go to your site and it’s blocked by my filter as racist/hate…

  • Chuck Spears

    St Louis…….meet east st louis!

    • Jim Rya

      LOL! Good one! Scary but good.

  • steve

    Please let the above comment be satire!

    • jnsesq

      I’m sure it is, but with a painfully true subtext. Oops, there I go again, gettin’ all racist and stuff by daring to mention truth in the face of social, political and economic reality. Shame on my bigoted self! Well, there’s always Detroit as the model alternative. Or Camden. Or Newark. Or Philadelphia. Or Chicago. Or Mexifornia. Or _________

      • Jim

        You are so true. The truth cannot be told anymore. I know what the problem is and so do you. Black people have destroyed St Louis, just like Detroit, Philly, Newark, Camden, parts of NYC. It is the truth.

      • clayusmcret

        It’s not one ethnicity or another. It’s the socialist drive to get everyone on some sort of entitlement. Eventually, no one works.

      • phillysmart

        Your wrong…black people have left a legacy of destruction like parasites…the cities are one example look around the world…haiiti…africa….if you open your eyes you can see it

      • Say NO 2 GMO

        Capitalism which is color blind has lead to more destruction than any group of poor people

      • Scott

        You’ve obviously been reading Marx and not Sowell. Try to educate yourself for a change, and maybe you’ll realize the obvious: capitalism is responsible for more prosperity across a broader range of the population than any other economic system in the history of mankind.

      • jake49

        You got it right Philly. Same thing has happened to Detroit.

    • Go to hell St Louis

      Steve, don’t worry. It won’t be in the next few years. DA RICH FOLK will have all moved away so they don’t have to continue to support the entitlement mentality folk anymore. Funny thing, the rich folk (productive people) will take their $$ where it is more useful to them, ie, out of St Louis where their $$ is less taxed, somewhere less whining of entitlements, and SAFER to live. The non productive people will be the rulers of St. Louis and will go down in a ball of entitlement fire. Less money = less public services and infrastructure. Which then = zero productive people wanting to inhabit such a place. No tax base = death nail to St Louis.

  • cageykg

    High crime, poor schools, corrupt politicians, what can be done to solve those problems. Oh wait. I know. Continue to vote straight Democratic, that will fix things. Right?

    • Going2hellOnaGreased Pole

      The city’s solution is to join the county.
      Guess they want to spread the misery.

  • cunning lawyer

    every big city has the same problem, no one will say what it is though everyone knows….

    • Kailuadude

      What is it?

  • Philip Inuhoff

    @Gary… Hey Gary, what incentives would you offer?
    Free bullet proof vests?
    A guarantee your child will only be beaten and raped twice/week in school?

    If you want to improve St. Louis, burn it to the ground, plow it up, and grow FOOD!


    hmmm…what is the demographic break down of St. LOUIS?????

    • Mr Liberty

      Lazy-violent-shi’head- hyphenated Amerikans.

  • DanaDee

    My husband is from St. Louis. It’s the city in which he had a rude awakening one day that liberalism just doesn’t work. Too bad more people haven’t had that same rude awakening.

    • could be

      maybe they have and thats why the exodus.


    The reason for the decline is HUD!!! This is absolutely right. I moved cause Section 8 was deemed by HUD to be 20% of my neighborhood. WHY WOULD I WANT TO LIVE (MADE TO LIVE) BY SH_T????

  • Philip Inuhoff

    gnomesayin… classic!


  • Steve Roberts

    Looks like that “Hope and Change ” hasn’t worked out so good for St. Louis. Or is this all Bush’s fault? Yeah, that’s it. Just give Obama little more time and money. More investment in Green Jobs and Education. That will turn things around. Really!

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