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St. Louis gained thousands of residents during the pandemic, research firm says

This year alone, St. Louis has gained 3,200 residents, which is above 2019 rates
Credit: Dan Buffa

ST. LOUIS — Stand-up comedian Nikki Glaser left New York City as the pandemic took hold, heading back to her parents' house in Des Peres. She later got an apartment in St. Louis.

"I thought it was going to be such a temporary thing, but it's just turned into actually such a blessing," she told KWMU last year.

Glaser wasn't alone. Since COVID-19 shutdowns were first put in place, in March 2020, the St. Louis metro area has gained 8,400 residents, according to Unacast, a New York research firm that analyzes cellphone data. This year alone, St. Louis has gained 3,200 residents, which is above 2019 rates.

"That's quite a lot," said Thomas Walle, the company's CEO.

Foot traffic in the region has also been resilient, rebounding to 81% of 2019 levels, Unacast said.

But it's not all good news. Gains for this year may peak in May, Unacast said, and if 2019 trends prevail, the area will lose "significant population going into August and September, before population flow turns mildly positive again" in the fourth quarter.

Downtown continues to struggle, with an area bounded by Tucker Boulevard to the west, Interstate 64 to the south, Mississippi River to the east and Carr Street to the north seeing foot traffic off 71% compared with 2019, "with a downward trend," Unacast said. Hoteliers, though, have reported some signs of life, with a few large events taking place.

"Worker traffic is flat due to a number of office and store closures over the measured period," Unacast said. "Foot traffic from non-locals is limited" and sporadic, influenced by the effect of stadium traffic.

And although there's been a net population gain, people still left St. Louis, with the real estate market at the Lake of the Ozarks booming, for example.

Unacast says it found that St. Louis' total income has fallen by $287 million since March 2020. 

Read the full story on the St. Louis Business Journal website.