Philadelphians Remain Optimistic About City's Direction; Concern About Crime Is Down, Impact of the Recession Is Deep

A new poll from The Pew Charitable Trusts' Philadelphia Research Initiative shows that Philadelphians are optimistic about their city's prospects even though many of them have suffered personally as a result of the economic downturn of the past 18 months.

One factor in their generally upbeat view appears to be a somewhat diminished worry about crime, although crime still outranks all other concerns about the city. That reduced fear shows up in several ways in the poll findings.

As part of this annual benchmark survey and the one conducted in January 2009, Philadelphians were asked to name the “one or two things they like least” about living in the city. This year, there was a 10 percentage-point drop in the number of people mentioning crime. The same trend was apparent when people who said they would like to move out of the city were asked why. For them, there was a 12 percentage-point drop in the crime mentions this year. Those attitudes are consistent with crime statistics; the number of major crimes in the city declined significantly in the past year.

The overall mood of the city, while more positive than negative, is not as rosy as it was last January during the weeks leading up to the inauguration of Barack Obama. But it is more upbeat than it was last April, when the Philadelphia Research Initiative conducted a poll during the city's budget crisis.