The following letter was sent by the PHL Neighborhood Growth Project to neighborhood, business, and civic leaders.
I wanted to reach out to make sure you saw the new United States Census Bureau report that shows Philadelphia’s poverty rate remained stubbornly stuck near 25% in 2018. That’s more than double the national poverty rate of 11.8%.
Today, Philadelphia remains the poorest big city in the country.
And although the new report found that the poverty rate had dipped slightly, and the number of people living in poverty has dropped, the improvement in the poverty rate merely makes up lost ground since the 2008 recession.
For me, this report adds more imperative to the fight against poverty that afflicts too many neighborhoods in Philadelphia. We must continue to consider every neighborhood’s individual prosperity.
As part of our Roadmap for Growth Initiative, our Defining Growth report revealed that while the city is doing well overall, not every neighborhood is sharing in the city’s prosperity. But through the PHL Neighborhood Growth Project, we can focus on helping our neighbors escape poverty through inclusive, neighborhood-level economic growth.
The need for a neighborhood growth agenda was underscored by last week’s Pew Charitable Trusts study, which found that as many as 60,000 people leave the city each year, and that “jobs led the list of reasons for moving out overall and for people younger than 50.”
We know jobs are the key to building stronger neighborhoods and are the foundation of any credible plan to help reduce the city’s too-high poverty rate. And we will continue to work with our partners to create the solutions that each neighborhood needs to thrive and take part in our city’s inclusive prosperity.
Rob Wonderling is President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.