The Philadelphia Research Initiative has released an update to its "Philadelphia 2009: The State of the City" report. Though the Pew-associated organization plans a full-fledged sequel to the report next year, it has published some statistics worth sharing right now:
Crime: Down 10% from last year. We always like to see that. Maybe has something to do with the the Philly Gun Task Force Program. (Which, we should add, is getting its funding cut from $5M to $3M in the 2010-2011 state budget...just sayin').
Jobs: The number, 651,000, is an all-time low for the city. Repeat: Lowest number EVER. Ouch. Even the number of people who work in city government is down (22,488)! In 2000, the number was 24,676. But at least the city is trimming alongside our businesses. It's only fair.
Only one sector in the city's job market has grown since 2000: Education and Health Services.
Education: So, if there are more teachers and other education-related staffers, why haven't students' performance stats changed all that much? The report finds that standardized test scores continue to rise, but only half of the students tested score well in reading and math. We think half is too low. Way too low.
Population: This statistic is rather interesting. First, the U.S. Census reports for several years that Philly is shrinking. Then, all of a sudden, the bureau "recently determined," as the report says, that the city has been growing for much of the past decade. It revised its 2008 estimate from 1,447,395 to 1,540,351, and projected a higher number for 2009.
Umm..oops? How exactly does the U.S. Census Bureau under-report population estimates for that many years? The PRI report says only after an appeal from City Hall did the bureau realize the error of its ways. Hmm.
What Philadelphians Hate the Most About Philadelphia: Apparently, the report finds, that we citizens hate dirty streets and trash more than we hate our corrupt city officials, our high taxes, our poor educational system and our jobless rate. If that's the case, then we better see all of your asses at the Philly Spring Cleanup on April 10.
The only thing we hate more than our dirty streets (which is unacceptable in a city as old as Philly!) is our crime, the report says.
But these statistics shouldn't be that surprising. A recent article in the American Journalism Review reported that only four journalists are assigned to cover City Hall, day in and day out. So, other than crime, dirty streets are the only thing we citizens can really see. Much of what happens at the Hall is either under-reported or not reported at all.
At the same time, the report finds that the majority of Philadelphians "believe the city is headed in the right direction and have noticed no significant deterioration in city services." Again, not surprising. It's hard to be disapproving of something you know so little about.
The report tries to put a positive spin on these statistics: "In the face of all these developments...the mood of residents seems determinedly upbeat."
Is that so?
Because, well, we feel that Philadelphians should be mad as hell – about a lot of things. Did you know that we have one of the highest poverty rates in the nation (behind Detroit and Cleveland, respectively)? Did you know that our educational-attainment level is well below the national average? And did you know that our combined state and local tax burdens are some of the highest of any major city?
The report outlines all of these stats. They must not have been relayed during the poll.
Seriously. We get a chance to respond in kind May 18 on a ballot measure to abolish the BRT forever. See you at the polls.
A number of investigative and watchdog bodies actually operate inside city government. Each office has its limitations, however, leaving oversight on certain areas of government thin to nonexistent. Specifically, City Council manages to largely escape scrutiny.
We’re not sure why China wants our trash (recyclables are considered commodities) and we are appropriately suspicious, but the money’s right so we’ll take it.
Savage Love: Sondheim is solace