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Shrinking St. Louis – Area drops out of nation’s top 20 cities

St. Louis is no longer one of the top 20 largest metropolitan areas in the country. Newly released US Census Bureau numbers show the city's population declined by more than 4,500 people to just over 308,000 residents. That's the largest drop since the 2010 census.

The St. Louis region is now 21st on the list of the nation's metro areas.

The Baltimore area, which had been ranked 21st, swapped spots on the population list with the St. Louis region. The City of Baltimore saw a drop in population greater than St. Louis city, but Baltimore’s loss represented a 0.9 percent decrease, compared with a 1.4 percent loss in St. Louis.

But what does that mean? A few business leaders said it's nothing but a headline.

“When I hear that I keep thinking about that truth. The real truth is the St. Louis region is growing,” said Jim Alexander, Sr. Vice President of Economic Development for the St. Louis Regional Chamber.

Overall, the St. Louis metropolitan area, which comprises 14 counties and the City of St. Louis, grew slightly but at a much slower rate than other parts of the US.

Alexander cites recent big news a positive trend in the last three weeks.

“We were able to say 2,200 new jobs coming to the region between Cenular, Amazon, and Growth Collaborative, so I’m glad to say were competing and winning projects,” he said.

While St. Louis City lost 4,500 people, St. Charles County gained 4700 residents.

The census numbers also show the 10 counties with the largest growth nationally are all in the south and west.

“It’s hopefully just a blip and the things we've been doing in last few years will set us back in the top 20,” said Sheila Sweeney, CEO of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.

Sweeney touts St. Louis being named the number one startup city, billions of dollars of investment happening in last few years, the NGA bringing new companies to town, and retaining 30,000 jobs where companies looked at leaving but opted to stay.

“Also, the new jobs created is approaching 6,000. So we're on a positive trajectory we just need to make it better,” she said.

Both leaders said while St. Louis was getting more foreign-born residents, it is far behind compared with most of the other us cities. That's why St. Louis is promoting its Mosaic Project to attract more foreign-born people.