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  • Writer's pictureVenture Philly Group

3 Ways Philadelphia is Bouncing Back From the Pandemic in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in more ways than we can count. But a recent report from the Center City District (CCD) shows the Philly is bouncing back from the pandemic in many ways. As the number of vaccinated individuals in the city continues to rise, we are seeing the liveliness return to the streets of Philly more each day. According to the report, pedestrian volumes in Center City rose in July for the 5th month in a row. SEPTA ridership was up 26% in June and the number of Regional Rail riders more than doubled. People are out and about again enjoying the city. Some people are returning to the office for work, moving back into the city and others are enjoying the wonderful businesses in Center City. We are seeing major recovery in these 3 categories:

1. Businesses

During the pandemic, many business doors closed to prevent the spread of the virus. That caused not only the city’s economy to struggle, but the hard working business owners were severely impacted as well. But there’s good news! A large number of businesses have reopened their doors in Philadelphia. There are 494 open restaurants, 493 open retailers, and 432 open service providing businesses as of July 2021. There are 142 businesses whose signage suggests that they still may reopen and 343 vacant or permanently closed premises. You can see the breakdown of open and closed businesses in the pie charts from CCD’s report. This means that 75% of street-level businesses are open. Although there are a number of businesses that have unfortunately closed permanently, there is also growth returning to the city. Almost 100 new retailers or restaurants have opened in the last year or plan to open by year’s end, according to CCD’s report.

2. Housing Market

You’ve probably heard it a lot recently: the real estate market is on fire! CCD’s report shows that is still very accurate despite the pandemic. Real estate transfer tax increase in Q2 this year, which shows an extremely resilient housing market in Philadelphia. Here’s what we learned from the report:

  • Real estate transfer revenue in Q2 totaled $78 million, which is a big increase from Q1.

  • Philly’s housing market has high sales volume and increasing prices.

  • According to MLS, there were 1,747 citywide sales in July. While that is a 12% decline from June, it’s higher than July of last year.

  • The median sales price is $275,000, which is up 11% from last year.

3. Employment

About 22 million Americans lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Some of those were temporary losses and those people have returned to their jobs. There’s still a long way to go, but there is good news: Philly is adding thousands of jobs each month. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers in Center City:

  • Philly has restored about 50,900 of the 123,400 jobs lost in the first 2 months of the pandemic. That’s only 41% restored. To compare, New York has restored 44% and Washington has restored 30%.

  • 3,000 jobs were added in June

  • July numbers are not yet available, but if Philly follows national trends, another 4,400 jobs could be added

  • Employment rates are rising at a much higher rate in the suburbs of Philly. In 4 suburban counties in Pennsylvania, 73% of jobs are restored.

    • It’s important to look at these numbers because 34% of employed Philly residents reverse commute to the suburbs and 41% overall work outside the city.

    • And it means that 91% of Philly residents are currently employed

  • The unemployment rate in Philadelphia is currently 9.4%


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