Philly's sluggish economy
During the recession, Philadelphia did less poorly,
economically speaking, than a lot of other cities. But these days, the city is struggling
to hold its own. From April to August, the local unemployment rate rose from
9.3 percent to 11.6 percent while the national rate held relatively steady at just
above 9 percent.
City tax revenues were down 2.6 percent in July,
August and September compared to the same three months last year. Two less current indicators from the
Census’ new American Community Survey tell a similar tale. Between 2009 and
2010, the poverty rate in Philadelphia rose by 1.7 percentage points to 26.7
percent. And the percentage of Philadelphians aged 16 and over not working or
looking for work rose 2.2 percentage points to 42.1 percent, one of the highest
in the country.
City ranks high in fed support
A new report (PDF) from the Census shows Philadelphia received more federal funds in Fiscal 2010 than many areas. The city received $15,137 per capita from
Washington, compared to $11,489 in the state of Pennsylvania and $10,460 in the nation as a whole. Compared to other cities that also act as counties, Philadelphia
got a little more than San Francisco ($14,557) and Denver ($14,258), but lagged
far behind Baltimore ($27,486) and Suffolk County, Mass. ($23.109), which
consists almost entirely of the city of Boston. The report, which offered data
only for states and counties, took into account all forms of federal spending,
including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. By the way, Pennsylvania
ranked 16th among the 50 states in federal funds per capita. Alaska was first, followed by Virginia and Maryland.
Philly311 still struggling
Prompted by our study
of Philly311 in 2009, city controller Alan Butkovitz released his own report (PDF)
last week on the city’s two-year-old call center. His analysis (based on data
from 2009 and 2010 compiled by WithumSmith+Brown) found that
city agencies failed to complete 29 percent of citizens’ requests for action to Philly311—such
as picking up garbage or replacing a streetlight—within the promised time period. That was almost identical to the performance we
found in 2009, indicating that the city has not improved in this area. Butkovitz
criticized Philly311 for failing to divert a significant number of non-emergency
calls from 911. His criticism was based on our 2009 data, so it remains
unclear whether things changed in 2010. Butkovitz also said that the real cost of Philly311 was much higher than the usually stated number, $2.8 million, since that number did not include employee-benefit and IT overhead costs. This is true for all city agency budgets.
Take your pick of
Each year between the official, once-every-ten-years Census counts, the U.S. Census
Bureau puts out annual population estimates based on birth, death, immigration and
In retrospect, those
estimates often turn out to be wrong when compared to the official
counts. If a locality complains about an estimate, as Philadelphia did in
2009, the bureau may revise all of the area’s past estimates. And when the new
decennial number comes out, the bureau revises all the past estimates again.
Last week, the bureau took that final step. So according to the Census Bureau, Philadelphia has had three different population trend lines for the
past decade. Hint: the green line is the latest one. Read our 2009 Census
The folks at OpenDataPhilly asked nonprofit organizations to nominate the governmental data sets they'd like to see made publically available. Online voting runs through October 27 and three winners will receive cash prizes. Several of the top contenders seek information about Philadelphia's vacant properties.
How Philly stacks up after school
The National League of Cities, in a new report, said Philadelphia stands out for the way it coordinates after-school programs run by multiple providers, such as those held at library branches and Police Athletic Centers. Most of the programs are operated by nonprofit organizations with state funding. The report says proposed budget cuts may undermine the city's achievements.
Closing Public Schools in Philadelphia: Lessons from Six Urban Districts: Next week, we will release a report on efforts in a half dozen cities to close numerous public school buildings. Always a difficult process, these experiences offer lessons for the School District of Philadelphia as it prepares to announce its own set of closures in the next month. Sign up to receive a release alert.
Philadelphia 2011: The State of the City: Printed copies of our popular statistical round-up are available free of charge. To request a copy, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address. Also check out our interactive chart.
| Notable Number
1 in 3
The approximate share of School District of Philadelphia seats that are empty, as reported in our forthcoming Closing Public Schools in Philadelphia.
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|Upcoming Public Events
Oct. 14: Young Involved Philadelphia final showcase. Details here.
Oct. 17: Police Advisory Commission meeting. Details here.
Oct. 18: City Planning Commission monthly meeting. Details here.
Oct. 19: Board of Ethics meeting. Details here.
Oct. 25: Philadelphia Historical Commission monthly meeting. Details here.
Oct. 26: School Reform Commission action meeting. Details here.
Oct. 28: OpenAccessPhilly forum. Details here.
Nov. 1: DVRPC Breaking Ground conference. Details here.
Nov. 8: Election day, Voting information here.
Nov. 9: Zoning Code Commission meeting. Details here.
| Our Most-Read Reports
Philadelphia 2011: The State of the City. Read.
City Councils in Philadelphia and Other Major Cities: Who Holds Office, How Long They Serve, and How Much It All Costs
The Philadelphia Research Initiative provides timely, impartial research and analysis that help Philadelphia’s citizens and leaders understand key issues facing the city. See our Reports and Briefs page.
We also conduct regular opinion surveys of Philadelphians on key issues, using nonpartisan pollsters who adhere to the highest standards of opinion research. See our Polling page.
Check our News and Data Library for primary research documents and previous newsletters.
The Philadelphia Research Initiative is a project of the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts. We welcome your comments.