“Where We Stand” Discussion: Central Library, October 14

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Where We Stand, 7th Edition by East-West Gateway

I’m thrilled to be joining Andre Hepkins of KMOV-TV, Maria Altman of St. Louis Public Radio, and Deb Peterson of the editorial board of the St. Louis Post Dispatch for “Where We Stand: How do Rankings Tell St. Louis’ Story?”at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, downtown at the Central Library, 1301 Olive St. The event is free and open to the public.

Since moving to St. Louis in 2004, I’ve tried to read and learn everything I can about St. Louis. One source of information that has proven invaluable is East-West Gateway’s Where We Stand report. The reason is simple – it’s easy to say St. Louis has too much poverty, too much crime, is growing too slowly, has gained college educated residents, is better/worse than some other place by some other measure, is failing/willing, you name it. But is it true?

Where We Stand, 7th Edition by East-West Gateway

Where does St. Louis stand? Compared to what? What do we actually know, and not just think about our region? This is what WWS provides. While no set of data or measurement necessarily points to a distinct action or policy aim, regional priorities, effort, and action must be rooted in a factual knowledge of our region. Data can and should serve as the basis for more questions.

From the 7th edition of Where We Stand (embed below): Where does the St. Louis region stand compared to peer metropolitan regions? This strategic assessment of the St. Louis region, Where We Stand, addresses that question by providing data on the economic, social, fiscal, and physical aspects of the 50 metropolitan regions in the United States with the largest populations. These regions are our domestic competition and are generally a consistent yardstick to gauge “Where We Stand.”

Where We Stand, 7th Edition by East-West Gateway

Since 1992, East-West Gateway has ranked St. Louis among its peer metropolitan regions. This 7th Edition of Where We Stand continues to provide objective, reliable, and verifiable data that can be used to assess the health and competitiveness of the St. Louis region.

The document includes 222 Where We Stand (WWS) tables. A consistent format and terminology is used for all of the WWS tables. The most recent of Where We Stand was released July 29 of this year. There is a lot of useful and dependable data in the 7th edition of Where We Stand. Much can be better understood by studying its 222 categories that measure how St. Louis compares to the nations’ 50 most populous urban areas.

Where We Stand, 7th Edition by East-West Gateway

Where We Stand, 7th Edition by East-West Gateway

As it is for any region, results are mixed across the categories measured. There’s good, there’s bad, there’s a lot of  ¯_(ツ)_/¯ . But the numbers still must serve as a starting point, a base understand of who we are and how we’re doing. Hopefully you’ll join the conversation next Wednesday, October 14.

Here is some data:

  • St. Louis is 44th in population change from 2010 to 2014
  • St. Louis has more senior residents than most large urban areas, ranking 8th among 50 for the percent of the population 65 and older in 2013
  • St. Louis ranks 19th in population in 2014 with 2.8 million residents and ranks 9thin land area with 7,863 square miles
  • St. Louis ranks 9th for purchasing power, which relates to personal income per capita adjusted for regional price levels in inflation-adjusted dollars
  • St. Louis is 2nd highest for owner-occupied units and 5th highest for housing opportunity, with 81.8 percent of homes sold that were affordable to families earning the median income in 2014.
  • Crime is a mixed bag, with numbers for 2013 showing the metro area ranking 30th for total crime rate, 32nd for property crime rate, and 18th for violent crime.
  • The murder rate in 2013 put the St. Louis region at 8th among the nation’s most populous regions
  • In 2012, St. Louis ranks 3rd among the top 50 metros for the highest number of school districts per 100,000 residents
  • Racial disparity continues to be a problem, as St. Louis ranks 5th highest in racial disparity for poverty, with blacks being 3.6 times as likely to be in poverty as whites.
  • The median household income of black households in St. Louis is $31,200, compared to $61,200 for white households, putting St. Louis as 11th highest for that disparity.
  • The unemployment level for blacks in the St. Louis labor force is 2.8 times higher than it is for whites. That ranks St. Louis 8th highest in that category.

 

Where We Stand: The Strategic Assessment of the St. Louis Region – 7th Edition, 2015 by nextSTL.com

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  • Chicagoan

    When we say “St. Louis”, are we referring to St. Louis, or the St. Louis metropolitan area?

    • Alex Ihnen

      The answer, my friend, is blowing in the…post – more than one place in the post, and the document. 🙂

      • Chicagoan

        I knew it was metropolitan areas, but I was curious if some elements were perhaps the cities themselves.

        I don’t often see crime being broken down by metropolitan areas, it usually seems to be on a city-to-city basis.

        • jhoff1257

          And therein lies the problem. Crime should be reported at the metropolitan level as it would provide a fair comparison with nearly all American cities. Instead, many compare crime in cities based on an individual municipality which leads a city like St. Louis, with only ~60 square miles and zero suburbs within the city limits, to get compared with a city like KC who has over 320 square miles, most of which is suburban in nature.

          That’s why you’ll notice in that first chart that KC comes in with higher rates of crime in every category when compared to St. Louis.

          Very interesting.

          • Chicagoan

            Going by metropolitan area also helps keep Chicago’s numbers lower, I see.

          • Chicagoan

            I think people also like knowing the crime stats for just the city because people tend to perceive the city as gritty, rough around the edges, and violent, and the suburbs as calm, leafy, and quiet.

            That’s not necessarily how it is, but I think that’s how some perceive it.

          • jhoff1257

            Thank you for proving my point. The fact that we continue to play into those perceptions and provide information based on those perceptions is the problem. St. Louis City has plenty of calm leafy neighborhoods, it also has exceedingly dangerous neighborhoods. Suburban St. Louis also has those calm leafy suburbs, but if you broke down each municipality in St. Louis County, you’d find that several of them have higher rates of violent crime then the City does.

            This is why we should be analyzing these numbers at the metropolitan level. Not picking and choosing what statistics to analyze based on what we perceive each city to be.

          • Chicagoan

            What St. Louis neighborhoods are commonly perceived as exceedingly dangerous?

            For example, Roseland on Chicago’s South Side is probably the most troublesome neighborhood for us right now.

          • jhoff1257

            I can’t even answer this. You seem to be hung up on perception which is exactly the problem. Different people perceive things different ways. Which is why stats like this should be compared at the metropolitan level.

            The answer to “What St. Louis neighborhoods are commonly perceived as exceedingly dangerous?” is going to be different for every person you ask. Just pulling one out of my ass? JeffVanderLou.

          • Chicagoan

            I’m not hung up on anything. I’m just saying that some people like to break down crime on a city-to-city basis rather than metropolitan basis and there’s a reason people like to do that.
            I’d imagine most cities saw a pretty steep drop in their crime stats, once they made them about the metropolitan areas.

            Cities, overall, experience issues that suburbs typically don’t struggle with as often. Crime is one of them, and you could go on for days trying to identify those issues. There are those suburbs that are more similar to the gritty city neighborhood than the leafy suburban subdivision, but all-in-all, I the city and the suburbs are often pretty starkly different.

          • jhoff1257

            You’ve missed my point entirely. Let’s just move on.

          • Chicagoan

            I understand your point. It’s not fair to compare Kansas City and St. Louis, due to fundamental differences between the two cities, land-size being one of them. And it’s not fair, I agree.

            I’m not arguing with you, I was just playing devil’s advocate and trying to see why people like to break down crime on a city-to-city level, not metropolitan.

            I’d be interested to here other opinions on why people prefer that kind of metric.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I’m not so sure that the issue is people like it, as much as it is that it’s easy for news (and newsy) outlets to report city stats because that’s how they’re compiled. It takes longer and is more complicated to compile all the crime stats across 100+ municipalities in the St. Louis region. The political alignment makes sense to some people to – that a major is ostensibly responsible for crime – so the numbers supposedly tell us how he/she is doing.

          • John R

            We have to be just as careful when we compare metros though as we do for cities… again not just for crime stats but across a wide array of issues. The Salt Lake City MSA is a great example — it has a vast land mass but most of it is uninhabitable; as a consequence it has a more urbanized and less rural populace than we have. And even though they’re all rust belt peers, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Cleveland also are good examples of significantly different, more urbanized MSA’s than ours.

            I keep going back to the fact that we need to find a better way to measure urbanized areas better. And I think cities do serve as a stand-in until we get that data more easily.

          • matimal

            Who is “us”?

          • Chicagoan

            I’m from Chicago. Us is those who live in Chicago. I live in Chicago, so I’m a Chicagoan (hence my name).

          • matimal

            and you speak for all Chicagoans?

          • Chicagoan

            No, did I claim to do so?

          • matimal

            You wrote “us” not “me.”

          • matimal

            so we should indulge their desire to focus on crime in St. Louis city in isolation from the metro area in which it occurs?

          • Chicagoan

            When did I say we should “indulge their desire”? I’m just saying how it is. Not just in St. Louis, but around the country. The world, really.

          • matimal

            “How it is” is a result of what people do and what interests they have. That isn’t an inevitable thing. It’s not a force of nature. It’s the result of what people, including you and me, do. It’s not a given. It can and has changed. The suburban industrial complex is not inevitable.

          • Chicagoan

            When did I bring up inevitability?

          • matimal

            “how it is…around the country” implies that the way things are is the result of forces to powerful or universal to influence in any way. I think that is wrong.

          • John R

            The problem with that though is that when we compare ourselves with other cities w/ small geographic size we still come out horrible…. we need to figure out how we can become more like Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco and even Pittsburgh.

          • Alex Ihnen

            This is the game, right? Is it reasonable, or possible for STL (given local economy, demographics, etc.) to be Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco, or Pittsburgh? The St. Louis metro area has a lower total crime rate than Salt Lake City, Seattle, Houston, Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas, Portland…is that good? The murder rate here is high, but on other measures St. Louis is average.

            So, if we’re to believe that crime is keeping people and money away from St. Louis, we’re to believe that the PR and media coverage of the City’s high crime rates, and murder, are trumping other factors. San Francisco has much higher total, property, and violent crime rates. And, although STL’s murder rate (especially in the City) is higher, I’d argue that raw numbers and density could matter significantly. That is to say it matters most if someone on your block or in your neighborhood is shot, and less that the homicide rate is 35/100K or 25/100K.

          • John R

            Crime is just one factor; but I’m speaking more broadly about the need for our core to become denser and have an improved quality of life,,,, how can we attract more people and jobs? expand transit? reduce poverty and lift lives up? Without a doubt it will be a challenge, but without a doubt we can become more like the smaller cities that have better measurements.

          • matimal

            KC is a sunbelt city is some ways with poverty and crime in some very low-density suburban-style locations.

      • matimal

        I can sense your weariness with trying to united a disunited region.

        • Chicagoan

          Man, you’re not very nice.

          • Adam

            Chicagoan, just ignore matimal. That’s what he does. Honestly, I don’t understand why your comments are drawing so much ire. It’s nice to have an outside perspective, especially from a dump like Chicago. 😉

          • Chicagoan

            Thank you, Adam. I was a little confused, trying to figure out how I may have offended somebody. Perhaps the NLDS had something to do with it 🙂 But really, I didn’t come here to offend.

          • matimal

            Chicagoan, just be honest and you and everyone else will be fine. Just do your homework and you’ll have something to contribute.

          • matimal

            Maybe not, but there has to be someplace to be honest about St. Louis and those who discuss it.