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St. Louis Sees Increased Diversity, Slow Growth In 2020 Census Numbers

The census will only ask if respondents are 'male' or 'female.' That leaves out a growing number of people who identify outside of that gender binary.
Nat Thomas | St. Louis Public Radio
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According to 2020 census data released this month, the St. Louis metro area continues to diversify.

St. Louis has long thought of itself as a Black and white city. Now U.S. Census Bureau numbers show the region’s composition changing, with increases in Asian, Latino and multiracial residents.

Many of those newcomers have settled in the I-270 corridor of St. Louis County. Ness Sandoval, a sociology professor and director of the Geospatial Institute at St. Louis University, calls the area “the UN of the region.”

“As a percentage, there are more immigrants there than we have [on average] at the national level — this is Maryland Heights, Creve Coeur, Town and Country, Chesterfield, Clarkson, Ellisville,” he said. “You see it in the school districts, you see it in the stores. This is a special place.”

Overall, Sandoval said, 100% of the area’s growth has come from racial minorities.

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Ness Sandoval
The St. Louis metro area continues to diversify. Nonwhite populations skyrocketed over the last decade, with Asian and Hispanic communities growing in particular.

The increased population among Asians, Latinos and people who self-identify as multiracial has been a rare bright spot in a region that is otherwise seeing sluggish growth. Looking at census trends from the past two decades, Sandoval predicts that the metro area will soon be surpassed in population by cities like Orlando and Charlotte, among others.

Between 2010 and 2020, St. Louis lost 17,892 residents. The city’s population is now 301,578. Eighty-three percent of the city’s loss was from Black residents leaving.

Sandoval said some Black city residents have left for the suburbs. But others, he suspects, have left the region entirely.

Janelle O'Dea and Ness Sandoval join St. Louis on the Air

“I think that there's internal migration,” Sandoval said. “The pattern has been very clear, though, since 2000, that Black families have been leaving the city.”

Sandoval shared 2020 census data and analysis on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air alongside Post-Dispatch reporter Janelle O'Dea, who recently dug into details of the increasing diversification of the region.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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