Feb 28, 2022 - Business

Pew report maps out possible scenarios for Philly's economic recovery

Animated illustration of a trend line teetering back and forth as it balances on a briefcase

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

It's impossible to know what the future holds for Philadelphia's post-pandemic economic recovery.

  • But a new report from Pew Charitable Trusts and the William Penn Foundation makes "informed estimates" to give the region a glimpse of potential best-case and worst-case scenarios.

Why it matters: About 70,000 jobs are at risk over the next three years, the report suggests.

  • It's significant considering that the city totaled roughly 730,000 jobs in 2019 and suffered a loss of 65,000 in 2021.

So let's take a look at Pew's crystal ball to see how it all might play out:

The optimistic view: The best possible outcome would come from a rebound of in-person activity, like workers going back to offices and frequenting restaurants again, and new business investment.

  • Should this occur, the city could gain an estimated 36,100 jobs for a total of 774,000 by 2025 — 5% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

In the second-best scenario, the city could see growth through “attractiveness and competitiveness,” which includes tax rates, regulatory policies and development, among other factors.

  • But the lack of "in-person activity" would still hamper the hospitality and leisure industries.
  • Still, in this scenario, the city could gain 15,700 jobs for a total of 754,500 jobs by 2025 — a 2% increase compared to 2019.

The not-so-great outcomes: There could be a return of in-person activity but no business investment, which could lead to the loss of 11,200 jobs.

  • The worst-case scenario would result from low in-person activity and no business investment, leading to a loss of 34,100 jobs in three years— a 5% drop from 2019.

Of note: Pew worked with Philly-based economic consulting firm Econsult Solutions Inc. to create the scenarios.

  • Econsult considered projections that IHS Markit made for the city's finance department last February as well as data from the Congressional Budget Office, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

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