Philly poverty rate remains unchanged from previous year, census says

City's poverty rate is the highest among country's 10 largest cities

Paul Kurtz
September 13, 2018 - 4:50 pm

Pat Loeb | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia is unable to shed its reputation as one of the most poverty-stricken big cities in America. 

The latest statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show that Philadelphia's poverty rate for 2017 was the same as the previous year, 25.7 percent — the highest among the country's 10 largest cities. 

"Those broad, top-line numbers, they're absolutely disappointing," said Mark Price, a labor economist with the Keystone Research Center. 

He said it'll take a coordinated effort to turn the situation around.  
  
"We need to do more both at the federal level, the state level and the city itself to help move in the direction of lifting wages," he added.

A higher minimum wage would help, Price suggested, but lawmakers in Harrisburg would have to sign off on that idea. 

Eva Goldstein, deputy managing director for the Philadelphia Department of Health and Human Services, said the city is taking a long-term approach to addressing chronic poverty, with a focus on early childhood education and workforce development. 

"Looking at creating career pathways, that will help support families in various sectors," she said. In the short term: major investments in parks and recreation and library facilities.  

"And that's a way of bringing resources back out to some of the communities that are hardest hit with the greatest needs," she continued, "and offering opportunities for engagement and learning."