Jul 14, 2022 - News

Poverty explains why Philadelphia is so stressed out

Illustration of the "Love" statue replaced with the word "Stress."

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Feeling anxious? You're not alone. Philadelphia is the 5th most-stressed city in America, according to a WalletHub analysis.

Why it matters: It might seem like a clicky list, but that ranking largely stems from our ignominious position as one of the poorest big cities in the country.

  • Philly's fellows at the top of the list — Cleveland, Detroit and Baltimore — all have a similar profile: a burden of deep, structural poverty while simultaneously reckoning with their post-industrial futures.

State of play: We ranked 2nd for "work stress" and 6th for "financial stress."

  • Work stress includes things we all can agree are terrible, like traffic congestion and commute times (hello, 76!) — but it also pulls in far bigger issues, including job security metrics and the share of households where no adults work.
  • Financial stress includes things like the poverty rate, household debt, credit scores and food insecurity.

The big picture: Pew's latest state of the city report measured Philly's poverty rate at 23.3% in 2019 — third-highest in the U.S. and well above the national average of 10.5%.

  • The other members of the top four? Cleveland (30.8%), Detroit (30.6%) and Baltimore (20.2%).
  • Poverty in Philly disproportionately affects people of color. It's experienced by 40.2% of Hispanic residents, 26.7% of Black residents and 23.1% of Asian residents — compared to 12.7% of white residents.

The bottom line: ​​Sometimes an internet ranking can expose deeper truths about where we live.


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