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Report: How the Philly Compares to the Rest of the U.S. Metros

How do the city's parks, economy, and transportation stack up?

The Delaware Regional Valley Planning Commission recently released its Rating the Region: Metropolitan Indicators Report. We sifted through the 118-page behemoth, which compares the Philadelphia region to 25 other metros in the country based on demographics, the environment, livable communities, the economy, and transportation. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly on each topic. (Note: All of this is based on 2014 data).

Demographics

The good: Philadelphia’s population has continued to steadily grow, increasing 7 percent from 2005 to 2014. It’s now the seventh most populous metro region in the country, falling a couple of spots in recent years.

The bad: Home ownership rates are slightly down, falling from 71 percent in 2005 to 67 percent in 2014. Plus, Philly has the fourth highest income disparity when you compare the city to the metro region. The median income in city limits is $37,640, while the metro region’s is $62,171. In addition, 27 percent of Philadelphians are living in poverty.

Environment and Natural Resources

The good: Most Philadelphians live within walking distance to the city’s parks. Philly ranks sixth among all major cities, with 92.3 percent of residents having "walkable access." The city also has a park score of 65, the 11th best in the nation.

The bad: The city spends just $66 per resident on urban parks and recreation. Compare that small number to DC, which pays more than five times that amount per resident.

Livable Communities

The good: The ratio of median housing value to household income is the 14th lowest in the nation. Philly’s is 3.77, while LA’s, for example, is 8.18.

The bad: Philadelphians spend on average 31 percent of their household income on housing. With transportation, they spend 51 percent.

Economy

The good: Philadelphia has the sixth most diverse regional economy in the country, which means it doesn’t dominate in one type of industry. The authors write, "A diverse economy, while not ‘booming,’ is resilient, protected from the potential extremes in growth or decline that economies dependent on one or two primary industries often experience.

The bad: The city’s job growth trails most of the major metro regions, ranking 19th. It grew 8 percent from 2005 to 2015. Compare that to Portland’s 55 percent hike.

Transportation

The good: Philadelphia has the fourth highest number of commuters who walk to work, and ranks seventh in the nation for public transportation.

The bad: With 73 percent of commuters still driving alone to work in Philly, the region’s aging infrastructure could be a problem. The authors write, "As in most other large metros, extensive maintenance needs in the region dictate that funding for improving or expanding the regional highway and transit infrastructure is most often diverted to rebuild the existing system, putting the region at a competitive disadvantage."