St. Louis Metro Area Shrinks as Residents Flee Urban Core

The St. Louis Metro Area saw a continued population decline according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates, which show the region’s population decreasing from 2,820,285 in April 2020 to 2,796,999 as of July 2023. This represents a loss of 23,286 residents, or a 0.83% decrease over the three-year period.  Looking at the one-year change, the St. Louis MSA population fell by 3,246, or 0.12%, from 2,800,245 in July 2022 to 2,796,999 in July 2023. Despite these decreases, St. Louis maintained its position as the 21st largest MSA nationally from 2020 to 2023.

Drilling down to the county level reveals that the population decline was not evenly distributed across the MSA. St. Louis County, the most populous county in the metro area, saw its population drop from 1,004,305 in April 2020 to 987,059 in July 2023, a loss of 17,246 residents or a 1.72% decrease. The City of St. Louis experienced an even sharper decline, falling from 301,565 to 281,754 over the same period, a decrease of 19,811 or 6.57%.

In contrast, some outlying counties in the MSA saw population growth. St. Charles County, the second most populous county in the region, grew from 405,271 in April 2020 to 416,659 in July 2023, an increase of 11,388 or 2.81%. Jefferson County’s population also increased, albeit more modestly, from 226,569 to 231,230, a gain of 4,661 or 2.06%.

Other Missouri counties in the MSA saw mixed results. Franklin County’s population rose from 104,689 to 106,404, an increase of 1,715 or 1.64%, while Lincoln County saw strong growth, increasing from 59,578 to 64,699, a gain of 5,121 or 8.59%. However, Warren County had a more moderate increase from 35,528 to 37,806, a growth of 2,278 or 6.41%.

In Illinois, the counties included in the St. Louis MSA also experienced population declines. Madison County’s population fell from 269,484 to 266,368, a loss of 3,116 or 1.16%, while St. Clair County saw a decline from 259,686 to 253,292, a decrease of 6,394 or 2.46%. Monroe County, however, remained relatively stable, with a slight increase of 4 residents or 0.02%, from 34,962 to 34,966.

The data shows that the St. Louis MSA’s overall population decline of 0.83% from 2020 to 2023 was driven largely by significant decreases in the core city of St. Louis (-6.57%) and St. Louis County (-1.72%), as well as declines in the Illinois counties of Madison (-1.16%) and St. Clair (-2.46%). While some suburban and exurban counties experienced population growth, such as Lincoln County (8.59%) and St. Charles County (2.81%), it was not enough to offset the losses in the urban core and Illinois portion of the MSA. This pattern of population shifts from urban to suburban/exurban areas within metro areas has been observed in many other regions across the country in recent years.

St Louis MSA Population Change 2020-2023 By County

County 2020 Population 2023 Population Change % Change
St. Louis County, MO 1,004,305 987,059 -17,246 -1.72%
St. Charles County, MO 405,271 416,659 11,388 2.81%
St. Louis City, MO 301,565 281,754 -19,811 -6.57%
Madison County, IL 269,484 266,368 -3,116 -1.16%
St. Clair County, IL 259,686 253,292 -6,394 -2.46%
Jefferson County, MO 226,569 231,230 4,661 2.06%
Franklin County, MO 104,689 106,404 1,715 1.64%
Lincoln County, MO 59,578 64,699 5,121 8.59%
Warren County, MO 35,528 37,806 2,278 6.41%
Monroe County, IL 34,962 34,966 4 0.02%


St Louis MSA Population – 1970-Present

(click on chart for live, interactive chart)

St Louis MSA Population - 1970-Present


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