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St. Louis Fed Finds that St. Louis Metro Area Lags Behind When it Comes to Population Growth


ST. LOUIS ― According to one economic model, the St. Louis metro area should have grown 11% since 2000, but it grew only 4.7% in that time. Why is St. Louis growing so slowly? Charles Gascon, a regional economist with the St. Louis Fed, shared his views in a recent Economic Synopsis titled “Why Is the St. Louis Metro Area Population Growing So Slowly?”

Gascon explains the St. Louis metropolitan statistical area (MSA)'s growth slowdown may be due to the following economic reasons:

  • Regional characteristics have impacted business productivity.
  • Amenities may have declined relative to other MSAs, leading to outward migration.
  • Different demographics may have produced differences in net birth rates.

Comparing actual population growth with forecasted growth may help identify the cause of the decline, Gascon pointed out in the publication.

Over the past 18 years, the St. Louis MSA has grown at a rate less than half the rate forecasted by an economic model developed by economists Peter Linneman and Albert Saiz. The shortfall is not driven by unexpectedly slower net birth rates, but by faster-than-expected migration out of the region. Another way to look at it is that the region has experienced declines in productivity or quality of life relative to other MSAs causing households to believe they could achieve a higher quality of life by moving to a new location, Gascon points out.