Philadelphia losing families to Pa. suburbs

    SEPTA regional rail train. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    SEPTA regional rail train. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    A new study from Pew Charitable Trust’s Philadelphia Research Initiative shows that families are leaving Philadelphia for surrounding counties at a much higher rate than than they move into the city.

    “When you look at household type, of those who moved out, the largest number, 45 percent, were living in households with children under 18,” said Larry Eichel, director of Philadelphia Research Initiative. Only 28 percent of those living with families with children are moving into the city.

    This and other regional trends are contained in Pew’s issue brief, “A Portrait of Philadelphia Migration,” which updates 2010 IRS data about migration with 2013 Census figures, which include more demographic descriptions of who is doing that moving.

    Some findings are intuitive, while others draw out the complexity of the picture of Philadelphia as a growing city. White people with college degrees are moving into — and out — of Philadelphia at a rate higher than their proportion of the city’s population.

    According to the report, “Philadelphia continues to experience a domestic net outflow of people.”

    In other words, in spite of attention given to college-age or young professionals flowing into the city, year over year there is a net decrease in the number of people born in the U.S. living in Philadelphia. Eichel chalked up the city’s slight bump in total population growth to immigrants and a birth rate that balances out deaths.

    The single largest recipient of the city’s transplants is Montgomery County, and a little over half of all people moving out of Philadelphia stayed in the metro area. Delaware and Bucks counties come in second and third.

    “One of the interesting things we’re seeing in the region is the net outflow from Philadelphia to South Jersey is diminishing,” said Eichel. Meanwhile, “the outflow to the Pennsylvania suburbs is relatively constant.”

    While raw data doesn’t lend a narrative, Eichel said the fact that 45 percent of Philadelphians leaving belonging to families suggests a certain explanation.

    “It would certainly seem to validate concerns that we hear often in the city about families leaving the city due to … their perceptions of the school system,” he said.

    Beyond the Delaware Valley, the most popular destination for Philadelphia expats are New York City and Travis County, Texas, home to Austin.

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