Homicides on the Rise
homicide total this year is slightly higher than it was at this time last year and
substantially higher than in 2009 and 2010, when the city had its lowest totals
in recent years. The death toll is running only slightly behind that of New York
City, even though New York has five-and-a-half times as many people as Philadelphia. As of May 6, the last date for which comparable statistics are available,
Philadelphia’s homicide total was 118, and New York’s 127; for a time earlier
in the year, Philadelphia actually had more homicides than did New York. Nationally, homicide
numbers are up in some big cities this year, down in others. The worst case is Chicago,
which has seen an increase of over 50 percent. Even so, its homicide rate remains lower than Philadelphia’s on a per capita basis.
Philadelphia’s lower life expectancy
According to a new study from the Seattle-based Institute
for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Philadelphia has one of the lower life
expectancies of any county in the nation. The study, based on 2009 data, reported
that a boy born in Philadelphia could expect to live 70.9 years, a girl 78.6. Since
most cities, unlike Philadelphia, are not counties, the study does not allow
for extensive city-by-city comparisons. Among those cities that do show up, Philadelphia
has a higher life expectancy than Baltimore, which was at 67.8
years for boys, 76.5 for girls. Nationally, the
numbers are 75.7 years for boys, 80.6 for girls. The lowest life expectancies are in some rural
counties in the South, particularly the Mississippi Delta. The highest also are
in rural areas, mostly in the West and Upper Midwest.
Big changes coming to Philly schools
The pace of change in K-12 education in Philadelphia has
accelerated in recent weeks. The School Reform Commission has announced plans
to decentralize the school district and close as
many as 64 district-run schools over the next five years. In addition, the archdiocesan
schools have signed onto the Great School Compact, a citywide effort to produce
more high-quality seats in schools, regardless of whether they are Catholic,
charter or district-run. Two of our past reports provide useful background on
all of this. They are “Philadelphia’s Changing Schools and What Parents Want
from Them,” which discussed the overall transformation of K-12 education, and
“Closing Public Schools in Philadelphia: Lessons from Six Urban Districts.”
Affluence shifting to urban cores
Pew colleague, Alan Ehrenhalt, has written a timely new book on cities. In The Great Inversion and the Future of the
American City, Ehrenhalt lists Philadelphia as one of a number of metropolises
where the center is becoming prime residential territory, particularly for young
adults and empty-nesters. The “inversion” in the title refers to the shift of
people with money from the outer suburbs to the urban core. In a chapter on
Philadelphia, Ehrenhalt documents the inversion in the city but wonders about
its ultimate strength, describing Center City and environs as an “island of
affluence more than an engine of civic improvement.” And he worries that Philadelphia’s
prospects will be damaged by its tax structure, crime rate, abandoned properties
and reputation for provincialism.
Introducing the Pew American Cities Project. We
want to call your attention to the Pew
American Cities Project, a
new endeavor recently launched by the Pew Center on the States in partnership
with the Philadelphia Research Initiative. The project is going to focus on the issues facing the biggest city in each of
the nation’s 30 largest metropolitan areas; Philadelphia, obviously, is one of
those cities. The goal is to highlight common problems and concerns while
helping policy makers understand promising approaches and best practices. Right
now, the project’s website includes an interactive presentation that we’re
calling an “introductory snapshot” of the cities.
Philadelphia 2012 Update: The State of the City. This bi-annual update to our popular State of the City report found a city in transition on a number of fronts—with familiar problems and one promising demographic trend. Printed copies of the 2011 full edition are still
available, free of charge. To request one, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and postal address.
The Library in the City: Changing Demands and a Challenging Future, our March report, drew attention in Philadelphia and across the country to the role of urban libraries as one-stop, multipurpose community centers. These institutions face a daunting road ahead even as they provide a greater number of services to city residents.
Philadelphia's Workforce Development Challenge: Our study, released in January, found that half as many employers have signed up to use the tax-funded workforce system in Philadelphia as statewide. And the system, which is now being restructured, had lower job placement rates for laid-off workers.
The number of school buildings the Philadelphia School District proposes to close in the next 5 years.
|Upcoming Public Events
May 17: The Next Generation of Manufacturing in
Philadelphia. Details here.
May 21: Police Advisory Commission. Details here.
May 31: School Reform Commission action meeting. Details here.
June 12: City Planning Commission monthly meeting. Details here.
June 12: Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority board meeting. Details here.
June 19: Monthly board meeting of Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA). Details here.
June 20: Philadelphia Board of Ethics meeting. Details here.
Through July 30:Tours of Free Library Locations. More details here.
|Our Most-Read Reports
Philadelphia: State of the City 2012.
The Library in the City: Changing
Demands and a Challenging Future. Read.
Closing Public Schools in Philadelphia: Lessons from Six Urban Districts. Read.