Pew: Philadelphia’s Millennial Boom Strong but Fragile

Pew: Philadelphia’s Millennial Boom Strong but Fragile

PHILADELPHIA—A new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts shows that since 2006, Philadelphia has experienced as large an increase in the population of 20- to 34-year-olds as any of the nation's 30 largest cities, as measured by the change in their percentage of each city’s overall population.

The rise in the population of Philadelphia’s millennials, as the generation is commonly known, may be fragile, however, according to surveys and focus groups conducted by Pew among young adults in the city.  More than half of the millennials surveyed said they definitely or probably would leave Philadelphia within the next five to 10 years, citing job and career reasons, school and child-rearing concerns, and crime and public safety as the major barriers to long-term residency.

Specific findings about this population group from Pew’s report, Millennials in Philadelphia:  A Promising but Fragile Boom, include:

  • Population Boom: The city’s population of 20- to 34-year-olds increased by about 100,000 from 2006 through 2012, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.  As a result of this increase, Philadelphia’s young adults constitute about 26 percent of the city’s population, up from 20 percent in 2006, which is near the median for the 30 largest U.S. cities.
  • Location:  Millennials tend to live in Center City and surrounding areas, including University City, Northern Liberties/Spring Garden, Kensington/Fishtown, and the two ZIP codes that constitute the northern half of South Philadelphia. In addition, Manayunk, East Falls, Kensington/Fishtown, and Roxborough have large percentages of millennials.
  • Education:  Philadelphia’s millennials are nearly twice as likely as older residents to have bachelor’s degrees. The percentage of young adults with degrees is near the median for the 30 largest cities.
  • Conditional love:  Of the millennials surveyed by Pew, only 36 percent said they would recommend the city as a place to raise children, while 56 percent would not.  Fifty-four percent surveyed said they consider the city an excellent or good place to live, compared with 62 percent for all other age groups.

“The strong growth in the population of young adults in Philadelphia offers promise for the future vitality of the city,” said Larry Eichel, director of Pew’s Philadelphia research initiative and the author of the report. “However, our research highlights that many millennials are poised to leave.  A key question is how to keep young adults in the city as they get older in order to retain their energy and commitment to the city and the region.”

More information about the report and the data can be found here.  


The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew’s Philadelphia research initiative provides timely, impartial research and analysis on key issues facing Philadelphia for the benefit of the city’s citizens and leaders.