Concentrated Poverty

Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2006-2010): 13.8%
Current (2017-2021): 7.5%

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 eight-county region, the percentage of poor residents living in a concentrated area of poverty decreased from 13.8 percent in the baseline time period of 2006-2010 to 7.5 percent in 2017-2021. The number of poor people living in concentrated areas of poverty decreased from 41,000 in the baseline time period to 19,982 in 2017-2021. Over this time period, the percentage of the population living in poverty decreased from 12.9 percent in 2010 to 11 percent in 2021. The number of census tracts that qualified as high poverty decreased from 34 to 18.

For the St. Louis MSA in 2017-2021, 6.9 percent of poor residents lived in concentrated areas of poverty, ranking 22nd among the peer regions. The second Where We Stand table shows that among the 50 most populous regions, St. Louis has the 3rd largest racial disparity in concentrated poverty. Poor black residents are nearly 12 times more likely than poor white residents to live in these high poverty areas. Since the 2006-2010 time-period the disparity between blacks and whites has increased, however the concentration of poverty has declined for both white non-Hispanic residents and black residents. The percent of poor white residents living in concentrated poverty decreased from 2.6 to 1.3. For black residents the decline was larger, declining from 25.4 to 15.0 percent.

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 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