Regional Growth & Communities

St. Louis is a relatively slow growing region; its rate of population growth is about one-third that of the nation as a whole and lags most of its peer regions. Between 1950 and 2012, the population of the region grew by about 50 percent, while the urbanized geographic area grew roughly 400 percent.2 While this geographic expansion has brought prosperity to some parts of the region, it has been accompanied by disinvestment and increased segregation in parts of the urban core, as well as development in areas of ecological significance. This pattern of growth also limits accessibility to jobs and quality education relative to affordable housing. While population growth alone is not the most important indicator of long-term economic viability, it often reflects a region’s ability to attract and retain the most talented workforce.

Frontier Park
Parks generally enhance the value of adjacent land (Frontier Park, St. Charles).
Over the next thirty years the proportion of people over the age of 65 in the region is projected to rise from 13 to 21 percent of the population. This will result in smaller households, more singleperson households, and fewer families with children. These significant changes in demographics affect planning decisions in terms of housing and transportation needs. An aging population will require accessible housing options without reliance on an automobile. These changes also emphasize the need to attract and retain young talent while training the next generation of business and civic leaders. Furthermore, more single-person households and couples choosing to have fewer or no children will have a direct impact on the demand for different types and locations of housing over the next thirty years.

Between 1950 and 2010, the population of the region grew by about 50%, while the urbanized area grew roughly 400%.

There are opportunities in higher-density urban areas for redevelopment to help attract a talented workforce. From 2000 to 2010, the population of college-educated professionals between 25 and 34 years of age grew by 26 percent in the core neighborhoods of the largest metro areas and at a rate twice as fast as the other areas in those regions.3Immigrants per 10,000 Population, 2009
Figure 4: St. Louis Compared to Peer MSAs
Twenty five to 34 year-olds tend to have smaller household sizes, seek a more urban, walkable lifestyle, and often prefer renting to homeownership. The efforts in St. Louis to revitalize its urban core should not go unnoticed; from 2000 to 2010, St. Louis led the nation in population growth of young college-educated professionals in neighborhoods close to downtown, with an increase of 87 percent, as opposed to a 16 percent increase in the rest of the region. For example, the population of the Old North St. Louis neighborhood grew 28 percent between 2000 and 2010.

Also, international immigration contributes to the vitality of the region. Although St. Louis attracts far fewer immigrants than most of its peer regions, recent influxes of Asians, Bosnians and Hispanics have created new businesses and revitalized neighborhoods. In 2012, a 20 member St. Louis Regional Immigration and Innovation Steering Committee was formed to develop strategies for attracting more immigrants to St. Louis. Its recommendations include mentoring foreign college and university students in the region, assisting immigrants with professional certification, and coordinating social services to immigrant communities.