Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2010): 12.9%
Current (2021): 11.0%

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 eight-county region was 11.0 percent in 2021, a decline from 12.9 percent in 2010. The number of people in poverty declined 16 percent over this time period, from 332,000 to 278,499. In 2021, the poverty threshold for a family of four was $27,479.1 The poverty rate of the counties in the St. Louis region ranges from a low of 4.5 percent in Monroe County to 21.5 percent in the city of St. Louis. 

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. While the poverty rate in 2021 was higher than in 2019, it has remained lower than it was for most of the last decade and increased just 0.7 percentage points since prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the St. Louis MSA as a whole, the poverty rate was 10.6 percent in 2021, ranking 33rd among the peer regions and 2.2 percentage points lower than the rate for the United States as a whole.

Within the MSA, the poverty rate varied greatly between white (not-Hispanic or Latino) and black (not-Hispanic or Latino) residents. In St. Louis, the poverty rate among black residents (22.8 percent) was 3.17 times higher than for white residents (7.2 percent), ranking 3rd among the peer regions in 2021.  

The poverty rate for both black and white residents in the St. Louis region has decreased since 2012 and, despite increases during the pandemic, continues to be lower in 2021. For black residents, the poverty rate declined from 32.9 percent in 2012 to its lowest point (since at least 2005) of 21.2 percent in 2019, but increased slightly to 22.8 percent in 2021. For white residents, the poverty rate also decreased between 2012 and 2019, from 9.1 to 7 percent and then increased slightly to 7.2 percent in 2021.

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