Estimates show slow population decline in Metro East

By Bob Pieper for Chronicle Media

The eight counties of the St. Louis region.  Counties on the Missouri side have seen a population increase. (Courtesy of East-West Gateway)

The population of Metro East continues to slowly-but-steadily decrease, according to 2018 population estimates, released April 18 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Fortunately, despite severe population loss in the City of St. Louis, the overall population of the St. Louis region on the Missouri side continues to increase.

The greater St. Louis area is generally considered to consist of the City of St. Louis and seven surrounding counties: St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties in Missouri; along with the Metro East counties of Madison, St. Clair and Monroe in Illinois.

The Census Bureau estimates the total population of the eight-county region now totals 2,026,982. That represents an increase of 28,024 or 1.4 % from 2010; when the bureau’s decennial census place the region’s total population at 1,998,958.

While the Census Bureau only undertakes a full headcount of the U.S. every 10 years, the bureau each spring issues population estimations; reflecting what officials believe were the population levels across the nation on July 1 of the previous year.

The next full census will occur in 2020. The bureau issued its most recent estimates on April 18; providing population estimates for July 1, 2018.

The combined population of Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties was 559,855 in 2018, the Census Bureau estimates. That represents a loss of 2,201 or 0.4 % over the past year, the Census Bureau estimates. The bureau estimated their combined population in July 2017 at 562,056.

The three Metro East counties have lost a combined total of 12,830 people, or 2.2 % of their population, over the course of this decade. They had a total of 572,685 residents on July 1, 2010, the bureau estimates.

For the sixth year, Madison County is Metro East’s largest; with 264,461 residents, according to the estimates.  However, the county’s population is down by 1,010 residents, or about 0.4 % , from 2017 to 2018. The county’s population in 2017 stood at 265,471, according to the bureau. Madison County has posted a net population loss of 4,885, or 1.8 % , from 2010, when its population was estimated to be 269,346.

Madison County has the largest population of the Illinois counties that make up the St. Louis region. (Courtesy of Madison County)

St. Clair County — formerly Metro East’s largest — had 261,059 residents last year, the Census Bureau estimates. That was down 9,923, or 3.4 %  from an estimated population of 270,342 in 2010. The county is estimated to have lost 1,367 residents from mid-2017 to mid-2018.

Monroe County continues to be a population bright spot; with a population now estimated at 34,335 — up 1,343 residents or 0.5 %  over the course of this decade. The county had a population of 32,997 in July 2010, according to the estimates.

Monroe County population grew by 176 people over the past year, the Census Bureau estimates —  also a 0.5 %  increase.  The county had a population of 34,159 in July 2017.

Across the river, the City of St. Louis continues to lead the region in population loss.  The rare hybrid city-county had a population of 302,838 in July 2018, the Census Bureau estimates — down 16,356 or 5.1 %  over the course of this decade.

Over the past year alone, St. Louis’ population has decreased 5,028 or 1.6 percent. The city’s population was estimated at 307,866 in July 2017.

The St. Louis region’s other Missouri counties all posted population increases in the latest Census Bureau estimates.

The country is preparing for the nationwide census next year. The census is required by law to be held every 10 years.

The population of St. Louis County rose last year following two years of losses, according to the Census Bureau. The county’s population stood at 996,645 in mid-2018; up 297 from 996,648 a year earlier, according to estimates.

It hit an all-time peak of 1,001,213 in 2015. Because of the two years of losses,  county’s population remains down 1,898, or 0.2 %  over the course of this decade.

On the western side of the St. Louis area, St. Charles County remains Missouri’s fastest growing county, according to the Census Bureau estimates. The most recent estimates place the county’s population at 399,182 — an increase of 38,688 or 10.7 over the course of the decade. The county’s population was placed at 360,494 in the bureau’s 2010 decennial census. The county’s population grew by 4,937, or 1.2 % , last year alone.

The population of Jefferson County, Mo., on the south side of the St. Louis region, is placed at 224,347 in the latest estimates — an increase of 5,639 or 2.6 %  from the beginning of the decade. Census takers found the county’s population to be 218,708 in 2010. The county grew by 598 residents or a little less than one percent over the past year.

The population of Franklin County, Mo.,  on the southwest corn of the St. Louis region, hit 103,670 last year – an increase of 2,175 or 2.1 % from the 101,495 people in the county in 2010. Its population increased by 382 or under 1 % , over the past year.

Census estimates for outer Illinois counties, on the eastern edge of the St. Louis region, suggest populations in those rural areas may be stabilizing.

According to the new census estimates, Bond County’s population was 16,630 in mid-2018 – a decrease of just five people from the 16,635 estimated to live in the county during 2017.  However, the county’s population is still down 1,157 or 6.5 %  from 17,787 at the beginning of the decade.

Clinton County posted a marginal population increase for a second year; hitting 37,639 in 2018 – up 32 residents from the 37,607 estimated a year earlier. However, the county has still lost 384 or 1 percent of its population, since hitting a peak of 38,023 in 2011.

Randolph County had an estimated population of 32,106 last year – down 158 or 0.5 % from 32,264 in mid-2017. The county’s population is down 1,374 residents or 4.1 %  from 33,480 at the beginning of the decade.

The population of Jersey County decreased by 54 residents or 0.2 %  from an estimated 21,901 in 2017 to 21,847 in 2018.  The county is down 1,143 residents or 5 %  from 22,970 recorded in the 2010 census.