ST. LOUIS – The Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area’s population hasn’t changed much in recent history. Around 2.8 million residents call the metro home in the present day, a number that’s increased modestly by 12% over the last half-century.

The St. Louis bi-state region is currently 21st largest in size among US metros and the largest consisting of Missouri, according to U.S. Census figures.

That said, recent population trends reveal that three U.S. metros are on the verge of potentially passing the population of Greater St. Louis within the next few years if regional population trends continue in a similar direction as they have since 2020.

The next three closest metros are within 150,000 people of St. Louis. All three have gained around 100,000 people since the start of a new decade. Greater St. Louis, meanwhile, has lost around 20,000 residents within the same time span.

Keep an eye on these three metros…

  • Orlando (Florida)
  • Charlotte (North Carolina & South Carolina)
  • San Antonio (Texas)

Census figures report similar levels of growth within each of three regions rivaling Greater St. Louis.

2020 population2022 populationPercentage change
St. Louis2,820,2532,801,319-0.67%
San Antonio2,558,1432,655,3423.79%

On their current paces of growth in the 2020s, Orlando and Charlotte could both pass Greater St. Louis within the next year or two and San Antonio within the next two to four years.

There are some common denominators between the three fast-growing metros. For one, all are south of St. Louis, so there is a stronger chance of warmer weather year-round, especially in Orlando and San Antonio. Also, all three are within a few hours of an ocean and beaches.

Could St. Louis fend off this competition? Perhaps it’s possible with lower-than-average housing and rent costs compared to similar-sized metros. It also holds an advantage as a larger professional sports scene, in addition to national acclaim for its music and arts scene.

According to Census figures, the population of Greater St. Louis has increased from the start of one decade to the next every time since the 1980s. This comes as the flagship city of St. Louis has lost more than half of its population since 1970, though recent FOX 2 research reveals tens of thousands (perhaps even more than 100,000) have stayed closed and moved to suburbs, especially ones in St. Charles County.

The St. Louis Business Journal, which also dove deep into Greater St. Louis population trends earlier this week, adds that regional leaders hope the St. Louis area grows by at least 1% from its 2020 population by the time 2030 arrives. That would mean a regional population of around 2.85 million people at the start of the new decade.

FOX 2 crunched numbers from 2020 and 2022 U.S. Census Bureau reports for this feature story.