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Philadelphia lags the rest of the country in economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will face pandemic-era challenges like the rise of remote work “for years to come.” , according to a new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
In September 2021, Philadelphia still had 7.6% fewer jobs than in 2019, while the rest of the country had only 2.6% fewer jobs, according to the report authored by Larry Eichel, adviser principal of research and policy at Pew in Philadelphia. initiative. Pandemic-related job losses have hit black people, women and people without a college degree particularly hard, the report said.
Philadelphia has been battered not only by remote work, but also by “a changing labor market, growth in online shopping and reduction in business travel,” according to Eichel.
Depending on the prevalence of remote working in the future, this could have “significant long-term implications” for Philadelphia’s payroll tax, which in recent years has generated nearly half of the tax revenue generated locally by the city, according to the report.
Before the pandemic, 34% of people working in Philadelphia came from out of town, while 25% of working Philadelphians went the other way — to out-of-town jobs, according to the study.
Now, Philadelphia could envision a future where there are 26,000 to 56,000 fewer workers commuting to the city and 15,000 to 32,000 fewer Philadelphians commuting to work outside the city, according to the report.
This could result in 11,000 to 19,000 fewer workers in Philadelphia per day, mostly in professional and business services; government; health care and social assistance; and the finance and information sectors, according to the report.
The impact of this net loss of workers would be two-fold: suburban commuters, who tend to have higher incomes, would not use as many goods and services from Philadelphia businesses. Meanwhile, Philadelphians who stay to work within city borders would not necessarily ease the burden on local businesses.
The report notes that while the US Travel Association predicts a “return to normal” for all segments of the travel industry by 2024, remote work options could reduce business travel costs. Quoting Econsul, Pew noted that even a 10% decrease in business travel could cost Philadelphia an estimated $100 million and lead to job losses in the leisure and hospitality, retail, and retail sectors. and others.
Meanwhile, Philadelphians who already have a job in the city or who can do their commuter work from the city limits won’t necessarily boost Philadelphia businesses, the report said. Indeed, workers who stay at home “will likely spend less money each day than if they traveled to a workplace outside their home, with multiple food, drink and retail options. near.
An increase in online spending could also hurt brick-and-mortar stores, which were already struggling to compete with e-commerce even before the pandemic.
The city will also have to deal with an increase in permanent departures during the pandemic.
Prior to March 2020, the average number of people leaving the city was around 1,400, the report noted. But, citing US Postal Service records, Pew found that between March 2020 and July 2021, about 2,600 people per month left Philadelphia despite the number of people moving in remaining the same and the residential market remaining strong.
“Fewer people means less economic activity, which leads to fewer jobs,” the study notes.
Another factor slowing Philadelphia’s recovery is the decline in the workforce during the pandemic, the study concluded. Several sectors, including leisure and hospitality, have struggled to find staff and will end up filling now vacant positions or have to settle for fewer workers due to rising wage demands or because they don’t simply cannot find people willing to fill the positions.
Eichel, however, offered a glimmer of hope: residential investment and demand remain high, suggesting that Philadelphia “could remain competitive for certain types of economic activity due to its location, cultural and recreational amenities, and accessibility. compared to other major centers in the East Coastal cities.