Feb 10, 2022 - Business

Philadelphia's job recovery still lags nation

Change in number of jobs from 2019
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics and Pew Charitable Trusts; Chart: Axios Visuals

Philadelphia has made some strides since the onset of the pandemic, but new research reminds us of a painful reality: The city is still behind.

State of play: Philly's economic recovery lags national figures, particularly when it comes to job creation, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts report published Wednesday.

  • There were 7.6% fewer jobs in the city as of September 2021, compared to 2019. Nationally, job growth during that period dipped 2.6% from pre-pandemic levels.
  • In the decade preceding the pandemic, the city economy matched and at times exceeded national figures in job generation.

Between the lines: Black and female workers, as well as those without college degrees, have been disproportionately impacted, holding the highest shares of pandemic-related job losses.

  • "These groups are overrepresented in hospitality and in retail," said Larry Eichel, a senior adviser to Pew's Philadelphia research and policy initiative. "Sectors that rely on in-person activity took a tremendous hit and still have not come back."

Zoom in: Philly's leisure and hospitality sector continues to be the hardest hit in the city. The industry lost 37% of its jobs in the second quarter of 2021, compared to pre-pandemic levels. Nationally, the industry's job growth dipped by 13%.

  • Philly's largest sector, health care and social assistance, saw jobs dip 4% from 2019 to 2021. Those jobs declined nationwide by 2%.
  • In terms of low-wage jobs, which include the hospitality and retail sectors, Philly lost 24%, compared to 2019.

Meanwhile, some people are leaving the workforce altogether.

  • The number of Philadelphians in the workforce dropped by 4%.

What to watch: The rise of remote work continues to reduce the number of people in the city during the day, which is likely to affect demand for office space, public transportation, restaurants and retail businesses.

  • Pew estimates there will be anywhere from 11,300 and 18,900 fewer people physically working in Philadelphia per workday by 2025.

Plus: The number of people moving out of the city is on the rise.

  • In 2019, the monthly outflow was about 1,400, but that has since grown to 2,600 between March 2020 and July 2021.

Yes, but: The amount of people moving in didn't decline, and the metro's residential housing market remains strong.

Of note: This Pew report is the first in a series, "Philadelphia's Fiscal Future," in collaboration with the William Penn Foundation, which will examine what lies ahead for the city's finances and economy.


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