Philadelphia only county in Southeast PA seeing growth in prime working-age population

new analysis by Governing Magazine finds that Philadelphia and New Castle were the only two counties in the Philadelphia region to experience growth in their prime working-age populations between 2010 and 2015.

Change in working-age residents for Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area counties, 2010-2015 :

Pennsylvania

  • Philadelphia: 37,514 (+5.9%)
  • Chester: -4,222 (-2.1%)
  • Delaware: -5,608 (-2.5%)
  • Montgomery: -9,775 (-2.9%)
  • Bucks: -17,740 (-6.9%)

New Jersey

  • Gloucester: -3,589 (-3.0%)
  • Camden: -7,825 (-3.6%)
  • Burlington: -9,467 (-5.0%)
  • Salem: -2,201 (-8.4%)

Delaware

  • New Castle: 2,340 (+1.0%)

Many analyses and news reports are concerned with the relative growth or decline in the total population, but Governing’s Mike Maciag dug into the county-level Census numbers and looked exclusively at the prime working-age group, which includes people between the ages of 25 and 54 years old.

Babies and retirees matter too, but this metric is interesting because it helps paint a picture of the labor pool in different areas. And what the data show is that, since 2010, working age people in the Philadelphia metro are increasingly moving to Philadelphia proper, and to a lesser extent Wilmington, Delaware.

From 2010-2015, Philadelphia’s prime working-age population grew by 37,514 people, or almost 6%, while all the other southeast PA counties saw those populations decrease.

The big questions this raises are whether the trend will continue, and whether the region’s employers will start following the working-age population toward the urban core.

Over one-third of Philadelphians reverse commute to the suburbs for work every day, and despite some modest overall job gains within the city limits, Philly is still lagging the suburbs in private sector job growth. While other large U.S. metro areas have seen more jobs moving toward the urban core, particularly in professional sectors, Philly has still been seeing a trickle of professional and business services jobs leaving the city. At what point, if ever, will the population growth translate into job growth?

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