Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2010): 12.9%
Current (2015): 12.2%

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, and reducing the ability of governments and nonprofits to meet societal needs. 

How are we Doing?

The poverty rate in the St. Louis region was 12.2 percent in 2015, essentially the same as it was in 2010, when 12.9 percent of the region’s residents were in poverty and about the same as in 2014 (12.7 percent). In 2015, the poverty threshold for a family of four was $24,257.1An estimated 316,000 individuals live below the poverty level in the 8-county St. Louis region. By county in the region, poverty rates range from 5.0 percent in Monroe County to 25.5 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 2015, 27.8 percent of black individuals in St. Louis were in poverty compared to 8.0 percent of white individuals. 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 2015, the rate declined annually to 12.2 percent, about the same as it was in 2009. The rate for the United States followed a similar trend, increasing to a height of 15.9 percent in 2011 and 2012. In 2015, the St. Louis MSA ranked 36th among the 50 peer regions with a lower poverty rate than many of the peers and a rate 2.5 percentage points lower than the United States. 


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“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