New Pew Poll: Residents Upbeat About Philadelphia

Recent issues also examined: Philadelphia Gas Works, property taxes, police

Residents Upbeat About Philadelphia


A new poll from The Pew Charitable Trusts finds that Philadelphians have a more positive outlook about their city than at any time in the six years that Pew has been polling.

Nearly half of residents surveyed said Philadelphia is heading in the right direction, while a third said it is on the wrong track. Sixty-seven percent expect the city to improve in the next five years, while 18 percent expect it to get worse. Three times as many residents would recommend Philadelphia to a friend as a place to live as would not. And young adults see themselves as more likely to build their futures in the city than in the last Pew Philadelphia Poll, which was taken in the summer of 2013.

The positive outlook extends to government as well. Mayor Michael Nutter’s approval rating stands at 52 percent, 13 points higher than in the previous survey. About as many Philadelphians approve of City Council’s job performance as disapprove, a big gain since 2013.

Key findings

  • Nearly half of Philadelphians have no opinion on selling Philadelphia Gas Works. Those who have a viewpoint reject a sale by a 2-1 ratio.
  • Philadelphians are divided about whether to keep the 10-year tax abatement on new construction, reduce it, or eliminate it.
  • Most residents remain unaware of the property tax overhaul known as the Actual Value Initiative. Among those who know about it, there is no real consensus over whether the change has made taxes more or less fair.
  • Residents support the city’s decision last year to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, also by a 2-1 ratio.
  • 55 percent of those polled said they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of confidence in the city’s police officers to treat blacks and whites equally; 42 percent said they had “just some” or “very little” confidence. Two-thirds of whites expressed confidence, and less than half of blacks did so. More broadly, two-thirds of Philadelphians have at least “a good amount” of respect for city police.

Download the complete poll results from the brief.