Snapshots

2020 Census will provide clarity on City of Philadelphia’s growth relative to its peers

Nearly a decade has passed since Philadelphia celebrated a remarkable fact, namely, that its long-dwindling population had crept upwards.

January 08, 2020
  • Nearly a decade has passed since Philadelphia celebrated a remarkable fact, namely, that its long-dwindling population had crept upwards. The growth was modest – a mere 0.6 percent between the 2000 and 2010 Censuses – but policy makers, civic boosters, and developers thought it boded well for the future. They bet correctly, as annual estimates since then have all been positive, with the latest available data (the ACS 1-year estimate of 2018) pegging growth since 2010 at 3.8 percent, a more than 6-fold increase over the previous decade’s rate. The upcoming Decennial Census of 2020 will finally provide a more accurate accounting of just how fast we grew throughout the 2010s. While this will help to solidify bragging rights, it will determine allocations of federal funding and the demand pipeline for every asset class of commercial real estate.
  • Looking at a sample of peer cities’ performance between the last two Censuses and the years since reveals some fascinating trends. Firstly, the buzz around urbanization wasn’t wrong: every city except Milwaukee has grown faster (or shrunk slower) per annual estimates since 2010 than they did the previous decade. Several saw remarkable percentage jumps similar to Philadelphia, notably Atlanta, Boston, DC, and Minneapolis, while others grew only modestly faster since 2010 than prior. Chicago is the only city in this list to flip from negative to positive growth between these timeframes. Interestingly, Philadelphia’s growth has exceeded that of Chicago and New York City per estimates since 2010 (we’ll see if the 2020 Census bears that out), while smaller cities with buzz (Milwaukee and Pittsburgh) haven’t been able to break into positive growth.

Source: JLL Research, U.S. Census

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