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City population shows modest growth, but officials exaggerate figures

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – The population of St. Louis city is continuing to grow. The U.S. census bureau has revised its 2006 population estimate after city officials challenged it.

Approximately 353,837 people called the city home as of July 2006.

Census officials had estimated 6,656 fewer people, until the city got them to factor in new building permits.

St. Louis city is also it's own county, and Planning Director Rollin Stanley said the original guess came in low because census officials used an estimation process better suited for counties.

"What the challenge allows us to do is use the city method, which is building permits," Stanley said. "People don't build what they can't sell. And so we're seeing tremendous occupancy rates in the new conversions and all those uses. So we keep track of the building permits, and it helps us get a more accurate assessment."

Mayor Francis Slay said the figures show renewed confidence in the city.

"Compared to the 2002 estimate, the city's population has grown by an estimated 18,000 people," Slay said. "It is not dramatic. But it is steady and consistent."

However Slay's figures are not quite accurate.

The mayor compared the revised 2006 figure to the unrevised 2002 estimate. The census bureau tossed out the latter figure because it was too low. The estimated growth since 2002 is actually 3,623, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Also, there was a slight dip in the estimated population between 2002 and 2003, which would indicate only three years of estimated growth, not four as Slay claimed at a news conference Thursday.

This was not apparent in statistics Slay released.

His population estimate for 2002 is about 3,000 fewer that what the Census Bureau's website shows.

These numbers are all estimates. More exact figures will not be out until after the 2010 census.