Sep 18, 2023 - News

Philadelphia's median income rises, Pennsylvania's falls

Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty

Philadelphia households saw modest gains in median income last year, new census data shows.

Why it matters: While incomes fell nationally and statewide, Philly bucked that trend as the city's poverty rate ticked downward.

Yes, but: Philly maintains its status as the poorest big city in the country. Its 21.7% poverty rate last year, down almost 1 percentage point from 2021, still ranks well above the national average of 11.5%.

Driving the news: Median household incomes rose to more than $56,500 last year, up 7% compared to 2021, per the U.S. Census Bureau's 2022 American Community Survey (ACS).

  • That's up from nearly $47,500 in 2019, per census data.

Reality check: Soaring inflation erased income gains in the city.

  • The purchasing power for the median household actually fell in 2022 compared to the previous year by about 1% due to record-high prices, per census data.

The big picture: Nationwide median household income fell 0.8% between 2021-2022, to $74,755, writes Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick.

  • Meanwhile, median household incomes for both the Philadelphia metro and state fell by more than 2%.

The intrigue: The share of Philly metro households making $100,000 or more jumped last year, mirroring a national trend.

Change in the share of Philadelphia metro area households, by income
Data: U.S. Census; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Of note: Because this release is based on 2022 data, it's capturing what some call the "late pandemic era," when many elements of normal life returned but the health emergency loomed in the background.

Between the lines: The pandemic "changed the geography of where money is made in the United States," Axios Macro's Neil Irwin reports, as many higher-income Americans left cities such as New York and San Francisco.

  • Philadelphia saw a roughly $1.6 billion loss in taxable income from outmigration between 2020 and 2021.

What they're saying: Philly continued its steady recovery from the pandemic but still faces challenges, like job growth, Matt Colyar, an economist at Moody's Analytics, tells Axios.

  • "It's hardly an extremely optimistic story in Philadelphia but nonetheless a little more positive" than other parts of the country, he said.

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