The following letter was sent by the PHL Neighborhood Growth Project to neighborhood, business, and civic leaders.

A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that poverty rose in more than twice as many Philadelphia neighborhoods as it decreased in over the five-year period 2014 to 2018. Incomes also dropped in more than twice as many Philadelphia neighborhoods as those in which incomes rose over the same period according to the American Community Survey (ACS) Five-Year Estimate for 2014 through 2018.

As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer: “[T]he new report shows that incomes rose in 15 Philadelphia neighborhoods and fell in 39, including every section of the Northeast except Bridesburg. At the same time, poverty decreased in 17 neighborhoods and jumped in 38 others.”

In a bit of an understatement, St. Joseph’s University sociologist Maria Kefalas called the new report “a terrible bit of news.”

This new report confirms what we have made a foundation of our Inclusive Growth Agenda: while the city itself is doing well, not every neighborhood has shared in that prosperity.  If the city is going to address its poverty, it needs to focus on neighborhood job growth.

Last month, City Council held a hearing on how best to foster inclusive, neighborhood-focused growth. In the new year the PHL Neighborhood Growth Project will continue to push for smart policies designed to increase the number of people working, because increased employment isn’t just the best way to address Philadelphia’s deep poverty, it’s the only way.