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Census data show Black people leaving city in droves as St. Louis, St. Charles counties become more diverse

The city lost more than 24,000 Black residents from 2010 to 2020, driving a total net loss of nearly 18,000 residents
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St Louis skyline and arch at night

ST. LOUIS — Black people left the city of St. Louis in large numbers in the past decade, as St. Louis and St. Charles counties saw more of the residents move in, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data, which make clear that suburban and exurban areas are diversifying.

Those numbers, in conjunction with the metro's slow growth as it falls to the 21st largest in the U.S., are a "huge problem for our city and for our region," said Neal Richardson, leader of St. Louis Development Corp., the city's development agency.

The city lost more than 24,000 Black residents from 2010 to 2020, driving a total net loss of nearly 18,000 residents. Over that period, the city gained 2,150 residents who identify as white. The city in total ended with about 301,000 residents, down 5.5%. Of those, 49.2% identify as white, up from 45.8% a decade ago, and 45.4% identify as Black, down from 50.7%.

Those totals reflect city residents who identify as Black or white only as well as those who identify as Black or white in combination with other races.

Heavily Black north city saw a major exodus of residents (23%), with a more minor loss (2%) on the south side. The central corridor saw 13% more residents.

"We're starting to see the impact of us not having an equitable and inclusive city," Richardson said. "It's segregated and separated, and we've provided opportunities for one group over the other."

Other key findings in the Census bureau data on race demographics:

  • St. Louis County gained 21,409 Black residents, while losing 32,609 white residents. Its Indian population grew by nearly 11,000, and Asian by more than 18,000, according to the Census data. The county's overall population grew just 0.5%, to 1,004,125.
  • The two largest metro St. Louis counties in Illinois, St. Clair and Madison, became less white. In St. Clair, the white population fell from 66.5% to 65.8%, while it dropped from 90% to 87.5% in Madison. The Metro East lost substantial population in the past decade.
  • The region's Hispanic population also grew in the past 10 years, increasing by 12,154 in St. Louis County, more than 6,000 in St. Charles county and 4,275 in the city.

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