Of all the numbers that tell the story of Philadelphia today, one stands out as an unambiguous expression of confidence in the city's future. Last year, developers received building permits for 2,815 units of new residential housing, the most approved in a decade. Those units are worth an estimated $465 million, the highest annual amount on record. Investors appear to be betting that Philadelphia's population, which rose for the seventh straight year in 2013 to 1,553,165, will keep growing and that many of the new residents will be looking for new homes and apartments. Even with the new construction and the rising population, though, Philadelphia's chronic problems have not gone away, and progress on those fronts has proved difficult to sustain. There are ample reasons for optimism, but the underlying challenges are as daunting as ever.
This report examines 14 indicators of Philadelphia's condition and is an update to Pew's more comprehensive Philadelphia 2013: State of the City.
Among the report's key indicators:
- Population: According to estimates from the Census Bureau, Philadelphia's population rose in 2013 for the seventh straight year to 1,553,165.
- Employment: The job market in Philadelphia is sluggish, although it has shown some signs of life. Last year, there were an estimated 3,800 more jobs in the city than the year before; and for the first time, the total was higher than in 2008, the last year before the Great Recession hit with full force.Many other cities had moved beyond their pre-recession job totals in previous years.
- Crime: In 2013, Philadelphia recorded 247 killings, down 25 percent from 2012 and the lowest since 1968; major crime as a whole continued a gradual and relatively steady decline. In the early months of 2014, however, homicides in Philadelphia were up again, generating renewed concern about public safety in some neighborhoods.
- K-12 Enrollment: Enrollment in schools run by the School District of Philadelphia fell nearly 6 percent, the largest percentage drop in many years. At the same time, the number of students in publicly funded charter schools continued to rise, and enrollment in schools run by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was little changed after years of steady, gradual decline.
To read more about the state of Philadelphia, including topics such as poverty, unemployment, and transportation, view or download the PDF. You may also view interactive graphics from our 2013 report.
View the 2013 report graphics below.