Census shows city population continues to shrink

DOWNTOWN –  The U.S. Census Bureau has released its latest estimated figures on St. Louis and the rest of the nation for 2018, and it paints a picture of a city still losing population, but growing in both median salary and the number of more affluent, six-figure earners. Also, while fewer people live in the city, more of those residents are working.

Year-to-year figures in the data show that the number of people 16 and over living in the city decreased once again, by about 4,000. That said, the number of people in the workforce actually grew, mirroring national statistics regarding lower unemployment.

Don Roe, executive director of St. Louis’ Planning and Urban Design Agency, says these sort of reports from the Census Bureau always need to be taken in the proper perspective, because they are estimates.

“The magic word is ‘estimates,'” Roe said. “The actual count will take place in April of 2020, and having those numbers that are not estimates is super important to us.”

He said the numbers did seem to indicate factors that were “attracting people to the affordability of the city,” however.

There were interesting shifts in the sorts of jobs people are doing and not doing.

Workers in the category labeled “production, transportation, and material moving occupations” jumped year to year by nearly 13 percent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these jobs, which include everything from truck and bus drivers to air traffic controllers, carry a mean salary in Missouri of just under $37,000 per year.

Under the heading of management, business, science and arts occupations, there was a 4.5 percent jump in employment between 2017 and 2018.

Meanwhile, people who work in fields such as service, sales, construction and maintenance all saw decreases in their categories in the city of  St. Louis.

Roe said he was often told in community meetings that the so-called “gig economy” was having an impact on both people’s wages and job descriptions, and could have something to do with the estimates.

Regarding those wage shifts, the city saw some upward mobility on the high end of the wage scale. The number of people making more than $100,000 per year jumped by more than 5 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to the latest numbers. Those in the middle of the wage figures, people making between $50,000 and $100,000, also grew over the last year, with their numbers increasing by more than 7 percent. There was roughly a 2 percent jump in those making less than $50,000 per year.

The overall average household income in the city jumped by about $2000.

George Sells

george.sells@metrostlcom.wpcomstaging.com George Sells is an Emmy Award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of experience in news. He has spent the last decade on the St. Louis media scene, working for KTVI Fox 2, HEC Media, and more recently as a host for KMOX Radio. His wife of twenty years, Julie, was born and raised in St. Louis. They have two kids and a dog.

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