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St. Louis falls to its lowest population in more than century

St. Louis falls to its lowest population in more than century

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UPDATED at 2:35 p.m., with more complete census data

The city of St. Louis, hoping to see a population turnaround after nearly six decades of decline, fell to its lowest level in more than 100 years.

The new population numbers from the Census Bureau show the city at 319,000, down 8 percent from 2000. Population estimates had the city closer to 355,000.

As well, St. Louis County dropped, by 2 percent, taking its population to below 1 million people.

"This is absolutely bad news. We had thought, given many of the other positive trends, that fifty years of population losses had finally reversed direction," St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said on his blog. "Instead, by the measure of Census to Census, they continue, though at a slower pace. Combined with the news from St. Louis County, I believe that this will require an urgent and thorough rethinking of how we do almost everything."

"If this doesn’t jump-start regional thinking," Slay said, "nothing will."

A Slay spokesman said the mayor would have more to say after he had a chance to review the numbers with staff.

For the rest of the St. Louis region, it was good news. St. Charles County grew by 27 percent. Its largest city, O'Fallon, grew by nearly 72 percent, moving to the seventh largest city in the state. In 2000, it was 13th. It now has 79,329 people.

St. Charles County, with 360,485 residents, surpasses St. Louis city. Lincoln County also made strong gains, growing by 35 percent. Jefferson County is now the fifth largest county in the state, with 218,733 people, a 10.4 increase from 2000.

On the other side of the state, Kansas City saw its population increase by 4.1 percent, taking its population to 459,787. Jackson County, which includes Kansas City, also grew, by 2.9 percnet. But it still is ranked second behind St. Louis County, which now has 998,954 people.

The Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit grew 29.2 percent. Columbia grew by 28.4 percent, to 108,500 people. Springfield, Missouri's third largest city, grew by 5.2 percent, to 159,498.

Legislators are watching closely the population gains and losses throughout the state. Missouri's slow growth resulted in the loss of a congressional seat and the big question is how the state map will be redrawn with one less district.

Check back with for more details.

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