Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2010): 12.9%
Current (2019): 10.3%

Theme Prosperous


Percent of residents living in poverty

Why is it Important?

Addressing poverty is a critical issue for a sustainable society. Residents living in poverty have a decreased quality of life which may include a day to day struggle for food and shelter. Poverty reduces the ability of residents to afford health care, higher education, and other necessities. Poverty also impacts the rest of society by increasing the need for government assistance.

How are we Doing?

The poverty rate in the St. Louis region was 10.3 percent in 2019, a decline from 12.9 percent in 2010. The number of people in poverty declined 22 percent over this time period, from 332,000 to 260,090. In 2019, the poverty threshold for a family of four was $26,172.1 The poverty rate of the counties in the St. Louis region ranges from a low of 4.2 percent in Monroe County to 20.4 percent in the city of St. Louis.

Black individuals in the St. Louis MSA are more than three times as likely to be in poverty as white individuals. In 2019, 21.2 percent of black individuals in St. Louis were in poverty compared to 7 percent of white individuals. Since 2013, the poverty rate for blacks declined from 30.1 percent and has reached its lowest point since at least 2005.  For whites, the rate is about the same although it was slightly higher, at 8.3 percent, in 2013. In 2019, the region ranked as having the 14th highest racial disparity in poverty rates among the 50 most populous regions for which there is data. In previous years, the region was among the 10 regions with the largest racial disparity in poverty.

Between 2000 and 2012, the poverty rate in St. Louis increased almost every year, with an overall increase of 4.6 percentage points. In 2000, the rate was 9.3 percent and in 2012, it was 13.9 percent. From 2012 to 2016, the rate declined to 11.3 percent and remained at about that percentage through 2018. In 2019, the poverty rate fell below 11 percent, to the lowest it has been since 2002 when the poverty rate in St. Louis was 9.9 percent. The rate for the United States followed a similar trend, increasing to a height of 15.9 percent in 2011 and 2012. In 2019, the St. Louis MSA ranked 38th among the 50 peer regions with a lower poverty rate than many of the peer regions and a rate of 2.4 percentage points lower than the United States.

Poverty Disparity in Poverty

Geographic Level

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


1“The Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty. If a family's total income is less than the family's threshold, then that family and every individual in it is considered in poverty. The official poverty thresholds do not vary geographically, but they are updated for inflation using Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). The official poverty definition uses money income before taxes and does not include capital gains or noncash benefits (such as public housing, Medicaid, and food stamps).”


Data Sources

Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, United States Census Bureau