Greater St. Louis is home to a skilled, diverse and well-trained workforce that benefits from one of the largest educational centers in the country.
Forty universities and colleges award more than 35,000 degrees each year. The institutions include leading research universities like Washington University and Saint Louis University, as well as major public universities like the University of Missouri St. Louis, as well as a host of community colleges. Educational attainment is above the national average, with over 35 percent of the workforce having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. St. Louis ranks #1 on LinkedIn’s list of “Top 15 cities to launch your career” with $992 median monthly rent and $60,400 in median salary.
The region also boasts numerous training and placement efforts, including the innovative LaunchCode apprenticeship program.
Greater St. Louis has a vast and talented workforce of almost 1.5 million. From 2018-19 annual averages, the number of employed persons in the St. Louis metro area increased by 14,700. The St. Louis area had a 2019 unemployment rate of 3.3%, below the U.S. rate as illustrated in the table below. Average wages are slightly below the national average, while unemployment is below the national mark.
The importance of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) workforce to many high tech and growing industries has been widely acknowledged. Greater St. Louis has one of the largest STEM workforces in the U.S. Over 90,000 are employed in these highly specialized occupations in St. Louis in 2019. STEM employment is 6.6% of total employment, higher than the U.S. percentage. STEM occupations have an average annual salary of $86,790 much higher than non-STEM at $49,220.
St. Louis also has strong STEM educational programs at its many colleges and universities, further supporting our workforce strengths. The St. Louis region has one of the largest concentrations of PhD’s in plant science in the world. And the region has fostered an emerging ecosystem around the $1.75 billion western headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency being built in north St. Louis.
The St. Louis metropolitan area is the 20th largest in the United States with a population of 2.8 million. The bi-state metropolitan area includes seven counties in Missouri and eight in Illinois. The area is diverse and inclusive, attracting about 40,000 new people every year, including more than 4,000 immigrants. It is home to 50,000 Bosnians, the largest population outside of Bosnia. The area offers multiple initiatives aimed at strengthening economic inclusion, including the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative, the International Institute, and the St. Louis Mosaic Project.
Greater St. Louis is one of the largest educational markets in the U.S. Thirty four-year colleges and universities in the St. Louis, MO-IL MSA enroll approximately 110,000 students. These colleges award over 25,000 Bachelor’s or higher degrees each year.
Higher education options range from community and technical colleges to the esteemed Saint Louis University and the nationally recognized and prestigious Washington University in St. Louis. In 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked three Greater St. Louis schools in the National Universities category including Washington University in St. Louis (19th), Saint Louis University (97th), and Maryville University (202th). Many of these universities attract students, faculty, and researchers from across the U.S. as well as internationally.
Another 50,000 students attend the area’s dozen two-year and community colleges as well as vocational and technical training facilities. Greater St. Louis colleges award around 7,000 Associates degrees each year.
The region also offers a wide variety of high-quality primary and secondary educational choices in more than 150 public school districts and about 850 public and 275 private K-12 schools. Lafayette Senior High, Rockwood Summit Senior High, Eureka Senior High and Metro Academic and Classical High School are currently ranked among the top in Missouri as of 2019.
Educational attainment in the St. Louis region is above U.S. averages.
Educational Attainment 2019
|St. Louis, MO-IL||MSA||U.S.|
|Highest Degree Attained||Total||%||%|
|Population 25 years and over||1,958,027|
|High school graduate or higher||1,811,375||92.5%||88.6%|
|High school graduate (includes equivalency)||509,118||26.0%||26.9%|
|Some college, no degree||428,355||21.9%||20.0%|
|Bachelor's degree or higher||700,257||35.8%||33.1%|
|Graduate or professional degree||289,219||14.8%||12.8%|