Apr 21, 2022 - News

State of the city: Philadelphia's pandemic scars and signs of healing

A view of Philadelphia's skyline

View of the Center City skyline as seen from the South Street Bridge. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

New Pew research is giving Philly a glimpse into signs of healing and ongoing challenges in the city since the onset of the pandemic.

Driving the news: Pew released its new report on the state of the city Wednesday, outlining Philadelphia's progress in recovery. Here's a rundown on where things stand:

COVID-19: So far, the city has recorded a total of more than 300,000 cases and over 5,000 deaths.

  • 47% of Philadelphians say they know someone who has died of the virus, as of January.
  • Of those, more than half of Black and Hispanic residents say they know someone who has died from COVID-19, compared to one-third of white Philadelphians.

Population: Philly's population dropped by 1.7% from 2020-2021, primarily driven by increased migration and mortality rates.

  • Between 1990 and 2020, the number of non-Hispanic white residents dropped from more than half of the city's population to one-third, while Hispanic and Asian communities nearly tripled. The share of Black residents remained stagnant.

Economy: Unemployment dropped to 5.8% by the end of 2021, the same rate as pre-pandemic levels.

  • 15% of commuters are projected to never return to working in the city, which will have long-term impacts on the city's wage tax.
  • Small and midsize businesses' delinquency rates, which neared 7% in 2021, are on the decline but still higher than before the pandemic.
  • The city issued a record number of residential building permits last year.

Opioid epidemic: Opioid-related deaths increased from 1,150 deaths in 2019 to an estimated 1,250 in 2021. In recent years, roughly 4 in 5 opioid deaths have involved fentanyl.

  • Philadelphia has the second-highest rate of drug overdose deaths per 100,000 residents compared to other major counties. It trails only Baltimore.

Read the full report


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