Must Read: Deep Poverty Declines in Philadelphia While It Sharply Increases in Our Suburbs

Alfred Lubrano at the Inky has remarked on the findings of this Census survey reflecting a new pattern long-suspected since the 2010 census:  the hardest-hit poor are leaving Philadelphia.

Specifically in Philadelphia our numbers have slightly improved.   6% of the population of those in deep poverty, those living below the Federal poverty line, have abandoned Philadelphia.

Per-capita Philadelphia household income rose by $1,000 over the course of 2011 to 2012, a rise of 4.3% and median family income in Philadelphia jumped $2,000 a year, a eye-popping rise of 4%.  High income earners and immigrants have been replacing the native-born poor who have left.

The make-up of higher income families in Philly’s population has sharply increased.  From 2011 to 2012 in the Census survey, families making $100-150K jumped 3.8%, $150K-200K families increased by a whopping 13.14%, and those families earning over $200K climbed 22%.

There are now over 10,000 households in Philly earning over $200K which is unheard of.

Meanwhile, in South Jersey and Delaware County incomes have dropped and deep poverty has sharply increased, leading to theories that deep-poverty households are decamping for the suburban counties.

The Census statistics are clearly showing that displacement of poor is certainly happening in Philadelphia.    This also means that our tax base is recovering if not increasing in size and scope as the suburban counties shoulder a larger burden.   This is good news for the City as it’s easier to cut larger slices of a growing tax base pie amongst a shrinking base of poverty; the reverse is true for our suburban counterparts.

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  • Jake

    Aren’t the ACS surveys pretty iffy on conclusive results? Usually the population estimates are off from the ACS when it hits the 10 year mark for a full census measure. Perhaps the swings are big enough to capture a true change though?

    • AW

      You’re right. The ACS 1-year data (which is what this is) tends to have pretty large margins of error. The 3-year and 5-year data (essentially, several of the 1-year surveys averaged together) smooth out a lot of that variation and have much smaller margins of error.

      However, due to the government shutdown, the newest 3-year (2010-12) data won’t be released until November, and the newest 5-year (2008-12) data won’t be out until December.

      I also wonder whether some of Philadelphia’s decrease in deep poverty is seniors who have passed away. I don’t know if the death rate was higher in 2012 than previous years, though.

      • Christopher Sawyer

        It’s intriguing regardless but I do intend to review the 3 year to see if this trend is showing up there as well. The margin of error in estimates though even taken account 1STDV max swing in either direction is still showing a significant decline in population of the 2 lowest income brackets in Philly. There could be a defect in how the Census estimates that population size as well that is subject to a larger error than the margin they print. If the trend is showing up in the 3 year data it would be worth taking a closer look at suburban data for things like increases in rental license applications in the suburbs and where those clusters are. That will be difficult data to get but I’m prepared to pepper county officials with PA RTKL requests.

        • UDResident

          Next time you want to talk about the suburbs, make sure it’s actually the suburbs.

  • Bob Dobolino

    Oh that’s a big surprise considering that exactly mirrors the dynamics of section 8 housing rentals. Section 8 renters are moving outside the city, and bringing their 10-fold higher rates of violence with them.

  • Nigel Watt

    Are they moving to Chester and Camden, or to West Chester, though? There are quite a few fairly “urban” places in suburban counties.

    • The Inky piece talked about Chester and Camden, but as far as I can tell it’s anecdata. The one tell is that the one statistic that is in the piece — deep poverty by county — is going up faster in Delaware and Camden counties, which have a higher proportion of urban places, than in the aggregated total of (Delco+Chesco+Montco+Bucks) and South Jersey, respectively. Not that there aren’t poorer, more “urban” places in Montgomery or Burlington counties, along the Schuylkill or along the Delaware. But those tend to be smaller, and more stabilised/gentrified.

      Someday, some developer is going to realize there’s a fortune to be made gentrifying Chester around the train station, and then all hell will break loose.

      • Pottstownperson

        Pottstown is a specially good place for section 8 because the school district has specialized in special education. They are very good at finding those students early and working with them. Results are some of the highest school taxes in the state. Anyway, ANYTHING is better than the Philly School District.

        • Can you, or anyone else, tell me why this post became a place for Pottstowners to have a huge flamewar? I’m kind of baffled.

      • UDResident

        So in other words, not the actual suburbs.

        • It’s not as though we’re talking about Altoona. Chester and Camden suffer for their proximity to Philadelphia, since they had nothing to offer that made them a superior choice to Philadelphia as long as blight was holding values and prices down. Now that nearly every neighborhood south of Cecil B. Moore and east of 52nd is either gentrifying or gentrified, Chester and Camden can compete on price, but that’s not a process that begins well.

          • UDResident

            And yet none of that has anything to do with it being the suburbs, because it isn’t. Chester suffers from deindustrialization and either being treated like it’s a cesspool or doesn’t exist. It’s not really all that close to Philadelphia at all. Urban renewal, I-95 (which separates the East and West side and could easily be capped yet nobody even proposes it), and other things that make people not even realize when they’re in Chester don’t help matters, either. If you look at old pictures, it had a downtown that stretched continuously for blocks and blocks along at least 4 different main arteries, and now what’s left? Avenue of the States? Deep poverty has existed there for as long as it did in Philadelphia, just like in Camden and in all of the other former industrial powerhouses throughout the metro. Using them as an example of “suburban poverty” is ridiculous. There are plenty of actual suburbs in Delaware County and especially Camden County to use as real examples.

            If Chester’s going to improve, it’s going to have to be internal. Having Widener grow and improve as a university is a big part of that, as is the waterfront and downtown. Proximity to Philadelphia only goes so far. Chester marketing itself for the good things it has to offer, like its colonial and even pre-colonial architecture, its history, and its infrastructure among other things would be a great start.

  • Ken Cooley

    Our firm specifically targets Philadelphia residents to move to Western Montgomery County. We also are targeting the 5 New York Boroughs. They bring housing vouchers and we provide a better home, bigger home and a better school district.

    • pjmstar

      What is the name of your firm? Great what you are doing for these Philadelphia residents. We would love to talk with you about the financial burden you are putting on several small suburban towns in Montgomery County that are now considered “urban” as a result of the higher density, more trash and increased crime. Our public service departments are overwhelmed. The school districts are crippled by the influx of a high level of special needs and non-English speaking children. Businesses are closing and our tax basis has eroded. Thank you Mr. Cooley.

    • GoldenCockroach

      I would venture to say that this “Ken Cooley” sounds an awful lot like athe other millions of screen names chosen by Debra Lacava Campbell – (remember the old “Pottstown Patch days” Tom)? Debra and her former husband, Doug Campbell, who defaulted on millions of dollars of investment properties in Pottstown and Norristown last year, (including taxes and municipal liens), then wiped their slates clean with bankruptcy so they could do it all over again. Doug hooked up with another real estate lady called Helen Sage (Platinum First Realty in Royersford). The borough says Doug is in the “halfway house/group home” buiz in Pottstown. Deb’s been keeping a relatively low profile but I have no doubt she’s hustling behind the scenes to herd the parasitic investors and Section 8 to P.twon and And oh, by the by, you didn’t happen to catch the news onFacebook about the cozy relationship between the Pottstown borough manager and another slumlord here in town, Matthew Crouse? Yeah, a June vaca to Mexico netted photo’s of the beaming pair and spouses livin’ la vida buena on the sandy beaches together. This caught some press attention – stay tuned for developments.

    • Pottstownperson

      You prey on the backs of home owners that are struggling with an unfair tax system. They have little choice on selling when their retirement savings weren’t built for an 100% increase in real-estate taxes in just 10-15 years and the financial explosion in 08. Shame on you. How do you sleep at night?

      • Jon

        A large firm is attempting to buy 14 houses on the blocks of Beech and Walnut by Manatawny Park. They made me an offer I can’t refuse

      • Gina Lynn

        Everyone in Pottstown is paying into the same tax system. Homeowners, don’t cry me a river saying you are treated unfairly. Everyone – investors included pay high taxes. Did you ever hear of Capitalism? You have the same opportunity as I do in buying a home and renting it out. You don’t because you are lazy and didn’t plan well so you are now in a losing position. Take responsibility and stop blaming the investors. It is your fault that you didn’t prepare or see the tax increases over the last 10 years. They didn’t happen all at once. Typical Pottstown person blaming everyone else. You are as bad as a tenant with 5 kids, gets free housing, free food, free medical and complains her car is 3 years old and has a small dent. BTW – I sleep like a baby in my $4000 bed.

        • Pottstownperson

          You make me laugh! I live in Pottstown because I want to live here. I am fighting the unfair way that Pa. finances it’s schools. I am not lazy! My home is paid for. I have no trouble paying my taxes but for the people who retired 20 years ago there was no way they could foretell the future. Yes, I believe in capitalism but I also realize that some people are called “Slum-landlords” for a reason. I realize that their are good landlords but I doubt you are one of them.

        • UDResident

          Speaking of acting like a stereotype…..

  • tomblair

    Well isn’t that what you Democrats have been trying to do for the past 2 decades – push the poor out of the cities into the suburbs? And Section 8 housing is the primary method of achieving it. There are some problems of course – the poor need public transportation which is not as pervasive in Pottstown. But I’m sure you’ll keep voting for Democrats who will make that happen. May Pottstown suffocate in the waste of Philadelphia that Democrat politicians bring to Pottstown.

    • Guest

      I’m a Republican and I think your comment sucks.

      • tomblair

        Well of course. People like you own the houses which you rent Section 8, screwing the neighborhood while you line your pockets. I’ll be you do think my comment sucks. I mean the last thing you want coming from the city is jobs and business, because that brings working people – who have no use for your slums.

        • Ken Cooley

          Tom – There is nothing you can do about an investor buying a home and renting it out to a section 8 tenant. You and others have been trying for years to stop or reduce this but it will not change. I can buy any home I want or an entire block and rent it out to whomever I please. Pottstown is a great place to make money for investors so the practice will continue.

          • tomblair

            I know Ken. Nor would I want a government powerful enough to tell investors to whom they can and can not rent. But I would like for the government to stop giving tax dollars to investors for the purpose of moving Philadelphia’s slums into Pottstown. Were it not for Section 8 Ken – you would not rent to someone who could not afford to pay you.

          • tsarstruck

            Wrong in so many ways. Study after study have shown that Section 8 housing follows declining rents, not vice versa. But hey, keep chasing your Democrat demons!

          • tomblair

            When Democrats continue to import poverty via Section 8 into towns like Pottstown (for the purpose of increasing Democrat votes) you bet I’ll keep chasing them.

          • UDResident

            That really speaks to your lack of character that you see nothing wrong with that.