Philadelphia Metropolis


Center City Means Jobs

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If Philadelphia is a car, then Center City is the engine.

I know folks in the neighborhoods like to dis Center City and why not?

It's where the rich people live and it's the locale that seems to get a huge share of government money - subsidies to builders of skyscrapers, city and state bond money to repair and maintain its infrastructure.

You could run a campaign for mayor based on resentment to the perks Center City enjoys, presumably at the expense of the little people in the nabes.

Thumbnail image for Center City.jpgOn the other hand, there are the facts.

A report issued today (Thursday, Sept. 23) by the Center City District underscores - once again - how  important Center City is to Philadelphia when it comes to the No. 1 issue in America:: Jobs.


The report, with the zippy title, Philadelphia's Major Employment Nodes: Where City Rssidents Work is based on a new analysis of employment data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the first time, CDC researchers were able to track not only how many people work in Center City, but where they live.

The highlights:

-- Four out of 10 private-sector jobs in Philadelphia are located in Center City, which is defined as the area from Spring Garden Street to South Street, Delaware to Schuylkill Rivers.  When you add self-employed workers (who are not counted in the BLS data) and public employees, the grand total comes to 267,321 jobs.

-- Nearly 49% of those Center City workers come from the suburbs  (which is a good thing, because they pay the wage tax, but don't put too much demand on services) and 51 percent come from within the city.

-- Nearly every neighborhood sends workers downtown everyday. For instance, 20 percent of workers who live in Southwest and West Philly work in Center City; the figure is nearly 25 percent of Germantown, Chestnut Hill, Manayunk and Roxborough; nearly 17 percent of those who live in Bridesburg, Kensington and Port Richmond work downtown; as do 27 percent of South Philly's workers.

-- Work equals wealth and cumulatively Center City creates a lot of it. Philadelphia workers who work there earn close to $6 billion a year in wages. Suburban residents who have jobs downtown earn $5.5 billion in wages.

Nationally, Philadelphia ranks among the highest in terms of the percent of its workforce located downtown (38.9%), higher than Chicago (33%), Seattle (32%), Atlanta (23.8%) and a half-dozen other large cities. Only New York (50.6%) and San Francisco (42%) are higher.

But, Paul Levy, head of the Center City District, argues that Philadelphia could do better.  It could have even more jobs in Center City, generating more work and wealth for the region.  The biggest impediment? Our tax structure, which wallops businesses and workers with high taxes. 

Have lower taxes and Philadelphia becomes more competitive.  By becoming more competitive it attracts more businesses, which create more jobs, which results in greater prosperity.

This is a song Levy has been singing for years (He's sort of the Jimmy Buffet of Philadelphia, destined always to have to sing Margaritaville).

But, lowering taxes to encourage growth is sort of like the weather: everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it.

The perception is we can't do it.  On the other hand, there are the facts.


-- TF



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