Report: Center City economy growing, but not fast enough

Mike DeNardo
April 23, 2019 - 1:51 pm

Andrew Kramer | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Center City's economy is growing, but not quickly enough, says a new report.

Center City has averaged a 2.1% job growth rate over the last three years. But it should be even higher, says Paul Levy, president and CEO of the Center City District.

"The recent rebound is great news," Levy said. "But quite simply, we're growing jobs too slowly."

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Levy released the "State of Center City" report at a meeting of the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation at the Union League, telling members that Washington, Boston and New York are outpacing Philadelphia in job growth. While Center City has done well to add jobs in the health care and hospitality sectors, he says what it really needs is more growth in high-paying tech jobs.

"Because Center City and University City are major sources of employment for people in Philadelphia — if we grew faster, we could reduce unemployment and reduce poverty in this city. So we've had a very successful period of growth. But we need to simply grow faster in order to address the needs and the opportunities that we have."

He says even with the opening of the Comcast Technology Center, more jobs are needed.

"Where we're not so strong is in the commercial office sector, which means technology, information, innovation. And there, our job growth is lagging. And since those are some of our most innovative jobs, those are the jobs that drive other jobs."

The report recommends investing in schools and SEPTA. And Levy recommends reforming the city's tax structure, to move the burden from wage and business taxes to real estate.

"Our tax policy doesn't facilitate the growth of the strongest jobs we need," he said.

The report says the current policy creates incentives for workers to leave the city as their incomes rise.