There is concern in many quarters in Franklin County about population, or, more correctly, the slow growth that is occurring.
Franklin County has never been a boom county in population growth. Compared to Jefferson and St. Charles counties, Franklin has lagged behind the growth in those areas. U.S. Census reported that Franklin County in 2017 has a population of 103,330, and had only a 1,838 gain in people since 2010. The gain is 1.8 percent over that period.
There was a time when population growth in Franklin County resulted chiefly from people moving out of St. Louis city and county. They were able to commute to their jobs from a rather short distance by living in Franklin County. Another reason for moving here was that many of the commuters wanted acreage, which was reasonable in price compared to other places. Industrial growth also spurred some of the growth. Compared to a decade or so, relocation of industry in the past decade has slowed. Also, real estate prices in the county have risen.
The lack of housing, especially startup dwellings for young couples, has been a factor in people not moving into the county. Jefferson and St. Charles counties have had new housing developers who built large subdivisions. Housing has been available in those counties. The terrain, especially in St. Charles, lends itself to large subdivisions. The hilly and rocky terrain in Franklin County adds to housing building costs.
There are many factors that affect population growth. The availability of jobs is an important factor. We have the job openings, but we don’t have the skilled workers. If we had more affordable housing, it would help fill the job openings. There are movements to draw more workers here, but housing is needed. There are many advantages to living in an incorporated town, but annexation can be difficult. That has been the case with Washington, which is years behind in adding to its limits.
Franklin County has many advantages as a place to live and raise children. Our education systems are good; the hospital and availability of doctors is outstanding; there are many recreational activities close by; overall transportation is good, but the traffic on Highway 47 is a problem; the county has a solid religious foundation; we have crime, but little of it is of a violent nature; the new Highway 47 bridge over the Missouri River will be a plus; and overall the quality of living is very good.
Being near St. Louis adds to the attractiveness of living in Franklin County, which is not going to dry up as some “doom and gloom” people have suggested.