Philly Clout: Controller Says Census Participation Lagging in Philly

Here’s the release:

City’s Census Participation Trails Large Cities, Majority of State Controller’s economic report includes census participation rates & a review of March’s low sales tax collections

PHILADELPHIA – City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released his monthly economic report for March that found Philadelphia’s current census participation rate of 63 percent ranks eighth among the top 10 populated cities.

Even with the City’s census participation rate two percent higher than it was in 2000, it still trails other large cities such as San Jose and San Diego that top the list with 74 percent and 70 percent, respectively. Phoenix, which is comparable in population size to Philadelphia, has a participation rate of 67 percent.

When compared to Pennsylvania’s larger cities and municipalities, Philadelphia’s 63 percent stands at the bottom of the list along with the City of Harrisburg. Altoona and Bethlehem top the list with 79 percent and 77 percent, respectively. Pittsburgh ranks in the upper half with 71 percent.

Along with providing current census data, the Controller’s economic snapshot reported the City’s sales tax collections of $16.6 million in March were considerably lower than expected. The low collection amount draws concern for the City’s ability to meet its revised year end sales tax projection $199.8 million.

In order to meet the sales tax projection, the City would have to collect just over $25 million each month for the remainder of the fiscal year. This amount wasn’t accomplished with revenues from the holiday season, making it unlikely the City will meet its projection.

The Economic Snapshot and Monthly Forecast are compiled by the Financial and Policy Analysis staff. The City Controller’s office circulates these documents on a monthly basis to assist key decision makers in understanding and anticipating local and national economic trends.

The Monthly Economic Snapshot presents key economic data for the United States, the Greater Philadelphia Region, and the City of Philadelphia. The Monthly Economic Forecast Review is a collection of projections from prominent economic institutions and an analysis of their forecasts of future economic performance. These two documents together — the Snapshot and the Forecast Review — are a useful tool for policy makers and analysts in understanding our city’s and country’s economy. 

To view the Economic Forecast and Monthly Snapshot, please visit the City Controller’s Web site at

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal