Could Bad Press About St. Louis Be The Cause of Population Decline?
St. Louis gets a lot of negative ink. It's dangerous, ugly, and apparently, a pretty good place to live if you want to be alone. So could all these negative stories about St. Louis be the cause of the St. Louis area's population decline?
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that St. Louis and the overall metro area around the city have experienced a decline in population. The St. Louis metropolitan area lost 11,000 plus people from July 2021 - July 2022 according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates reported by the newspaper.
St. Louis proper lost just under 7,000 people, while St. Louis County's loss was around 1,000 more people than the City.
Yet, the decline in population around St. Louis isn't anything new. The newspaper characterizes the population decline as decades-long. A population decline that's decades-long definitely predates the internet and all the statistic-driven articles that give St. Louis a black eye.
So why are people leaving St. Louis? There are plenty of reasons and theories. Many trotted out in articles detailing the city's decline. The Show Me Institute acknowledges crime and poor schools as reasons, however, they delve deeper and cite the city's earning tax on workers and residents, high sales tax districts, and an onerous business climate.
Wikipedia says the City of St. Louis lost half its population to St. Louis and St. Charles Counties between 1950-2000. The culprits? The rise of the automobile and highways made suburbia attractive. Not to mention, the decline of industry and manufacturing in rust belt cities like St. Louis drove folks out of the city toward developing cities in the south and west.
City Journal also points the finger at a loss of business. Once a major regional business center, mergers and sales of giant St. Louis companies like McDonnell Douglas, TWA, Southwestern Bell, and Purina lessoned their workforce and presence in St. Louis. They also point the finger at the 91 communities around St. Louis, many of which are small and fiscally distressed adding to the region's problems.
The bad press St. Louis gets these days from largely statistic-driven stories and surveys that allow article writers to proclaim it the most dangerous, the ugliest, or whatever certainly doesn't portray the city in a good light. However, it's not the cause of St. Louis' population problems.
No, it's not bad press. It's innovation, time, technology, and business consolidation, along with yes crime, bad schools, and perhaps at times poor leadership without vision.
Who knows, perhaps St. Louis will rise again. In fact, the city is ranked at #30 on a list of places people are moving to because of climate change. That bodes well for the Gateway to the West.