PHILADELPHIA—A new analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts finds that Philadelphia’s impoverished residents are increasingly Hispanic, of working age, and geographically spread across much of the city, reflecting the changing makeup of Philadelphia as a whole. It also shows that one reason for the city’s high poverty rate of 25.7 percent is the extraordinary degree to which the region’s poor are concentrated in the city, more so than in many other metropolitan areas.
The study, “Philadelphia’s Poor: Who They Are, Where They Live, and How That Has Changed,” finds that the “suburbanization of poverty,” which has been much discussed nationally, has happened less in the Philadelphia area than in many other metropolitan areas. And at 12.9 percent, the region’s poverty rate is lower than that of most of the metropolitan areas that include the nation’s 10 largest cities. About 400,000 city residents—including nearly 40 percent of Philadelphia’s children under the age of 18—live below the federal poverty line, which is $19,337 in annual income for an adult living with two children. And nearly half of all poor residents are in deep poverty, defined as 50 percent below the federal poverty line. To make comparisons over time and among cities, Pew analyzed U.S. census data from the nation’s 10 most populous cities and the 10 poorest cities with populations of at least 350,000; Philadelphia is the only city to appear on both lists.
Additional key findings of the research include:
“The effects of Philadelphia’s high poverty rate reach far beyond the people who struggle with poverty on a daily basis,” said Octavia Howell, a researcher with Pew’s Philadelphia research initiative and author of the report. “Many of the topics that dominate our nation’s urban conversation—including crime, health, public education, and support for government services—are rooted in the economic status of our cities’ less well-off residents. Therefore, the goal of this analysis is to inform that conversation for policymakers and all those who care about Philadelphia and its residents.”
The full report, which includes numerous graphics and maps, is available at pewtrusts.org/philadelphiapoverty.
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. Learn more at pewtrusts.org/philaresearch.