Report: Philadelphia’s Poor

Posted by Pew Charitable Trusts on December 4, 2017

Who they are, where they live, and how that has changed


Poverty is one of Philadelphia’s most enduring problems. At 25.7 percent, the poverty rate is the highest among the nation’s 10 largest cities. About 400,000 residents—including roughly 37 percent of the city’s children under the age of 18—live below the federal poverty line, which is $19,337 in annual income for an adult living with two children. And nearly half of all poor residents are in deep poverty, defined as 50 percent below the federal poverty line.

One factor that helps explain this high poverty rate is the extraordinary degree to which the region’s poor are concentrated in the city. Philadelphia has only 26 percent of the region’s residents, but it is home to 51 percent of the poor, and that gap of 25 percentage points is among the largest for any region in the country. While the suburbanization of poverty has been much-discussed nationally and there are pockets of poverty in Philadelphia’s surrounding counties, the phenomenon has happened less in the Philadelphia area than in many other metropolitan areas. And at 12.9 percent, the region’s poverty rate is lower than that of most of the metropolitan areas that include the nation’s 10 largest cities.

This report focuses on the demographics and geography of poverty in Philadelphia and makes comparisons over time and among different cities. To do this, The Pew Charitable Trusts analyzed U.S. census data in the nation’s 10 most populous cities—New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Houston; Phoenix; Philadelphia; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego; Dallas; and San Jose, California—and the 10 poorest cities with populations of at least 350,000: Detroit; Cleveland; Fresno, California; Memphis, Tennessee; Milwaukee; Philadelphia; Miami; Tucson, Arizona; New Orleans; and Atlanta.

More in "New Resources"

Stay Current in Philly's Higher Education and Nonprofit Sector

We compile a weekly email with local events, resources, national conferences, calls for proposals, grant, volunteer and job opportunities in the higher education and nonprofit sectors.