Concentrated Poverty

Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2006-2010): 13.8%
Current (2011-2015): 15.5%

Theme Inclusive


Percent of poor residents living in a concentrated area of poverty (census tracts with >40% poverty rate)

Why is it Important?

Areas of concentrated poverty are neighborhoods with high poverty rates. They are the result of economic segregation in our communities and have numerous consequences for the individuals residing within them and for the rest of society. Poor residents living in high poverty neighborhoods face additional difficulties beyond those caused by poverty alone, such as reduced access to amenities, jobs, and affordable goods and services. High poverty neighborhoods are also associated with increased crime, reduced opportunities for wealth building, and poorer health outcomes.

The effects of concentrated poverty extend outward to affect the rest of the community. Concentrated poverty increases costs for local government, which may increase the tax burden on local businesses and/or reduce the level of services. In addition, concentrated poverty signifies economic segregation in our communities, which prevents residents of a variety of economic classes from building relationships, thus resulting in reduced trust and civic capacity.1

How are we Doing?

In the St. Louis region, the percent of poor residents living in a concentrated area of poverty increased from 13.8 percent in the baseline time period of 2006-2010 to 15.5 percent in 2011-2015. This is a continued trend of moving in the wrong direction. In 2000, 12.4 percent of poor residents lived in a concentrated area of poverty.

From 2006-2010 to 2011-2015, the number of people living in poverty in the St. Louis eight-county region increased 12 percent from just under 300,000 to about 334,000 individuals. The number of poor people living in concentrated areas of poverty increased 25 percent, from about 41,000 to 51,500 individuals, comprising 15.4 percent of all poor people. The number of census tracts that qualified as high poverty increased from 34 to 39.

Concentrated areas of poverty overlap considerably with Racially Concentrated Areas of Poverty (RCAPs), which were analyzed in detail in the Fair Housing Equity Assessment. RCAPs are areas with high poverty rates and a non-white majority population. Of the 39 tracts in 2011-2015 with concentrated poverty, all but three were majority black. The average concentrated area of poverty in the St. Louis region is 85.8 percent black. Black people are disproportionally represented in the tracts with concentrated poverty. Over 16 percent of the region’s African Americans live in a concentrated area of poverty compared with less than 1 percent of whites. 

Geographic Level

St. Louis eight county bi-state region, including Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties and city of St. Louis in Missouri and Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois. View map.


1 Community Affairs Offices of the Federal Reserve System and the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, The Enduring Challenge of Concentrated Poverty in America: Case Studies from Communities Across the U.S. October 2008; accessed on 16 January 2014 at

Data Sources

U.S. Census and American Community Survey, United States Census Bureau