3 new reports that explain Philadelphia’s economic health right now

A look at Center City activity, local impact of inflation and life sciences real estate.

Still on Zoom.

(Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels)

As Philly navigates the second year of the pandemic, its economy has shown signs of recovery. Industries like life sciences, for instance, continue to show significant growth in the region. Meanwhile, with poverty still rampant, factors like inflation could have a negative impact on the way in which residents are able to spend their money.

Three recent reports help frame the current state of Philly’s economy:

Center City District: Monitoring Philadelphia’s Economic Recovery, September 2021 

Philly’s economy is rebounding at a steady rate with 43% of jobs that were lost in the first months of the pandemic coming back. Jobs increased by 1,700 in August 2021 and SEPTA ridership, hotel tax revenue and pedestrian activity along Market Street all increased.

Still, job recovery in the city is happening at a slower pace than other nearby counties and the U.S. overall. Through August, there were 70,900 fewer jobs in Philly compared to February 2020. The information and construction were the only two local industries at employment levels equal to or better than where they were before the pandemic.

Many professionals are still working remotely, and conventions only beginning to return to Center City. As solutions to the pandemic’s economic challenges remain a top priority, there is hope from experts that tourists will return in large numbers and the hospitality industry will be renewed.

For further reading:

Economy League: Inflation in Greater Philadelphia – Part 1: De-Mystifying Local Inflation

According to this recent Economy League report, pandemic-prompted supply chain challenges have caused a 5% shift in inflation over the last year. That means consumers have lost buying power in a market already overwhelmed by poverty.


Inflation tends to affect people with the least amount of buying power as it limits their ability to buy basic necessities. While stimulus and Child Tax Credit payments may assist people dealing with poverty, such initiatives could cause inflation on a larger scale as more individuals with buying power compete for limited goods.

For further reading:

JLL: 2021 Life Sciences Real Estate Outlook

Eds and meds: startup edition continues to reign in Philadelphia, as real estate services firm JLL ranked the city ninth on its list of top life sciences clusters across the U.S.

Finding lab space for new businesses is a top priority. Of the city’s life sciences market inventory, less than 1 million square feet, or 14.1% of existing market inventory, is under construction. Life sciences businesses have done well in virtually all markets over the last 18 months and there is an expectation that as employees return to in-person work in 2022, the industry will grow even more.

For further reading:

Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. -30-
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