7 Missouri Towns People Are Fleeing As Soon As Possible

Missouri, the Show-Me State, is known for its diverse landscapes, rich history, and vibrant cities. However, like many states, Missouri has towns that are struggling to maintain their populations. Factors like economic decline, limited job opportunities, and aging populations contribute to residents seeking better prospects elsewhere. Let’s examine seven such towns and the challenges they face.

1. Wellston, Missouri

  • The Struggles of a Former Industrial Center

Wellston, a small town in St. Louis County, was once a thriving industrial hub. However, the decline of manufacturing has left lasting scars on the community. Abandoned factories and dilapidated buildings serve as constant reminders of a lost era of prosperity.

  • Population Decline and Its Impact

Wellston’s population has been steadily dwindling. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town lost over 25% of its population between 2010 and 2020. As residents leave, businesses close, property values drop, and the tax base erodes, leaving fewer resources for essential services and infrastructure maintenance.

  • Challenges and Potential Solutions

Wellston faces an uphill battle. Attracting new businesses and creating jobs is essential for revitalization. Investing in infrastructure, improving education, and addressing crime are key components of a long-term strategy for stemming the population decline.

2. Berkeley, Missouri

  • Economic Woes and Social Concerns

Berkeley, another St. Louis County suburb, grapples with economic hardship and social problems. The closure of major employers has led to high unemployment and widespread poverty. Crime rates in Berkeley are significantly higher than state and national averages.

  • Factors Leading to Outward Migration
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The combination of limited job prospects and safety concerns motivates many Berkeley residents to seek a better life elsewhere. As young families leave, the community’s future becomes increasingly uncertain.

  • Addressing the Issues

Revitalizing Berkeley requires a multi-pronged approach. Job training programs, incentives for businesses, and investment in public safety are all needed to create a more attractive and stable community.

3. Jennings, Missouri

  • Effects of Urban Blight and Declining Opportunities

Jennings, also located in St. Louis County, exhibits the classic signs of urban blight. Vacant homes, neglected infrastructure, and a lack of economic vitality create a sense of hopelessness for many residents. This pushes them to relocate to areas with greater opportunities.

  • The Cycle of Population Loss

Population decline perpetuates a cycle in Jennings. Reduced tax revenues make it challenging to address the problems the community faces. As a result, the issues that initially fueled the exodus persist, contributing to further out-migration.

  • Reversing the Trend

Stabilizing Jennings means tackling difficult problems like crime, poverty, and dilapidated housing. Collaboration between the community, local government, and external resources is needed for lasting change.

4. Ferguson, Missouri

  • Beyond the Headlines: Social and Economic Struggles

Ferguson made international headlines in 2014 following the unrest after the police shooting of Michael Brown. Yet the town’s challenges extend beyond this particular event, with roots in historical racial inequalities and economic disparities.

  • Population Shifts in the Wake of Unrest

While the media spotlight has faded, Ferguson continues to grapple with socioeconomic problems that hinder its long-term stability. Some residents relocated following the events of 2014, contributing to the town’s population change.

  • The Path to Revitalization
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Healing the wounds of the past and building trust between community members and authorities is crucial for Ferguson’s future. Equally important is tackling economic disparities, educational gaps, and creating pathways toward opportunity for all residents.

5. Pine Lawn, Missouri

  • The Challenges of Poverty and Neglect

Pine Lawn, yet another St. Louis County suburb, ranks as one of the poorest communities in Missouri. High poverty rates, crime, and infrastructure problems severely affect residents’ quality of life.

  • Effects on Population and Community

The cycle of poverty and limited opportunities contributes to significant population decline in Pine Lawn. The town’s shrinking tax base hinders its ability to provide critical services, further perpetuating the problems that lead to the exodus.

  • A Call for Investment and Change

Transforming Pine Lawn requires comprehensive action. Addressing systemic poverty, improving housing, education, and job opportunities are vital components of any revitalization plan.

6. Sugar Creek, Missouri

  • Shrinking Industry, Shrinking Population

Sugar Creek, located near Kansas City, was once a major oil-refining center. The decline of that industry led to a dramatic economic downturn, prompting outward migration.

  • Consequences for the Community

Sugar Creek’s population has decreased significantly over the past few decades. As with other towns facing a dwindling population, a contracting tax base further weakens a town’s ability to provide services and address challenges.

  • Rethinking Economic Strategies

Sugar Creek’s future rests on its ability to diversify its economy and generate new sources of revenue. Attracting businesses, developing tourism, and creating a business-friendly environment are avenues worth pursuing.

7. Country Club Hills, Missouri

  • Aging Infrastructure and Shifting Demographics
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Country Club Hills, a St. Louis County suburb, faces its own set of challenges. Aging infrastructure, declining home values, and population shifts threaten the town’s stability.

  • Consequences of Population Decline

Reduced tax revenues make addressing infrastructure issues even more difficult. The town may be forced to consider consolidation with neighboring municipalities or explore other cost-saving measures.

  • Efforts to Stabilize the Community

Country Club Hills must work to attract new residents and businesses. Improving amenities, addressing housing issues, and promoting a sense of community can enhance the town’s appeal.


The Missouri towns profiled in this article all grapple with declining populations for various reasons. While revitalization is a complex and lengthy process, it’s never impossible. Through determined action, collaboration, and a focus on addressing the root causes of decline, these towns can begin to chart a brighter future.


Important Note: This article aims to provide a starting point for understanding the complexities of population decline in small Missouri towns. Further research and community engagement are essential to grasp the nuances of each town’s experience and identify appropriate solutions.

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