School closing process begins
A lot has happened in the two months since we released our report on
the experiences of major cities in closing schools. In early November, the
School District of Philadelphia proposed shuttering nine schools and reconfiguring
more than a dozen others. Public
meetings on the proposed changes are ongoing; the next is at Strawberry Mansion
High School on December 15. Find the
full calendar of meetings here. And last week, the city controller’s office released
a report (PDF) on eight already vacant school buildings, some of which have been empty
for a decade. The investigation documented a range of distressing conditions including
imminently dangerous structures and evidence of drug use. In every city we studied for our report, maintaining
empty school buildings (or finding new uses for them) has proved a tough task. Hazardous
conditions and illegal activity have been common complaints.
Fewer mixed-income neighborhoods
A recent report (PDF) by two Stanford University researchers found a dramatic
increase since 1970 in economic segregation in the nation’s metropolitan areas.
By one measure, the Philadelphia region is now the third most
economically-segregated in the country, trailing only the
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area in Connecticut and the New York City area. And
metropolitan Philadelphia had the largest increase in economic segregation of
any region in the country over the last four decades. To measure economic
segregation, the researchers looked at the percentage of residents in a region living
in poor or affluent census tracts. In the study, poor tracts are places where
median family income is less than 67 percent of the regional median, affluent
ones where income is more than 150 percent of the median.
Tackling the gross receipts tax
Philadelphia is not alone in trying to reduce the negative impact of
its gross receipts tax on the local business climate. Los Angeles, one of the
few other major cities with such a levy, is trying to do the same. According to
the LA Daily News, one proposal there calls for extending a soon-to-expire,
three-year tax exemption for new businesses. Another would exempt new-car
dealerships. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would like to see the tax eliminated.
But in LA, as in Philly, the question is how to make up for the lost revenue.
Last month, Philadelphia City Council voted to reform the tax here by exempting
the first $100,000 of any business’s receipts and giving some new businesses
relief for up to two years.
A dip in the elderly population
In looking at Philadelphia’s 2010 Census results the other day, we
stumbled across something interesting that we and other local analysts had
missed. Over the last decade, even as the city’s overall population rose
slightly, there was a 13 percent decline in the number of elderly. In the
official count, 185,309 Philadelphians were listed at age 65 and over in 2010,
down from 213,722 a decade earlier. That drop came in a decade when the age
group grew nationally by 15 percent and the median age climbed in every state, according to Stateline. There
was a similar decline in Baltimore and Chicago, but not in Boston or
Washington. The local trend is not likely to last, with most of the Baby
Boomers set to go past age 65 in the current decade. But compared to 2000, for better or worse,
Philadelphia today has fewer senior citizens, fewer school-age children, and
more people in between.
Highly educated, foreign-born
With foreign-born residents accounting for much of Philadelphia’s
population growth, another bit of Census data caught our attention: according
to a new report (PDF), Philadelphia last year ranked 8th out of 50 metro regions in the percentage
of foreign-born residents with a college degree. They constituted 38 percent of
foreign-born residents here. The Philly region ranked 12th in percentage of
foreign born with a science or engineering degree, at 19 percent. In both
measures, Pittsburgh was ranked No. 1, due largely to its engineers.
Philadelphia's Workforce Development Challenge: Our next report, due out next month, looks at the public system intended to help workers get jobs and employers find workers. Sign up here to receive an email alert about the release.
Closing Public Schools in Philadelphia, our October report, drew wide attention to the lessons of six other municipalities for the School District of Philadelphia, which is proposing to close nine schools and reconfigure some others.
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.
|Upcoming Public Events
Dec. 19: Police Advisory Commission meeting. Details here.
Dec. 21: Board of Ethics meeting. Details here.
Dec. 21: School Reform Commission action meeting. Details here.
Jan. 13: Philadelphia Historical Commission monthly meeting. Details here.
Jan. 17: City Planning Commission monthly meeting. Details here.
| Our Most-Read Reports
Closing Public Schools in Philadelphia: Lessons from Six Urban Districts. Read.
Philadelphia: State of the City 2011
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.
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Check our News and Data Library for primary research documents and previous newsletters.
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