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In Philadelphia, millennials are practically everywhere and their numbers are increasing. In fact, no other major city has experienced the growth of young adults between the ages of 20 and 34 as a share of overall population as much as Philadelphia, according to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts released Wednesday. From 2006 until 2012, Philadelphia’s population of 20- to 34-year-olds increased by about 100,000, according to U.S. Census estimates.
But, the Pew report cautions, millennials affection for Philadelphia is conditional.
Half of the 20- to 34-year-olds surveyed by a poll conducted for Pew said it was probable or likely that they wouldn’t be living in the city in the next 5 to 10 years. The reasons? The same as those of many other adults who have chosen to leave: job and career prospects, the troubled school system, crime and public safety. But for now, Philadelphia’s young adults are attracted to the city by its vibrancy, diversity, culture and quality of life.
Who are they?
The Pew report tells us these facts about this population: Forty percent of millennials in Philadelphia are non-Hispanic whites, and 52 percent are women. Most are well educated. A little over 37 percent have bachelor’s degrees or better, compared to 20 percent for all other Philadelphians.
Where do they live?
Millennials in Philadelphia are primarily living in Center City. They also can be found in Manayunk, University City and Fairmount. Other popular neighborhoods for young adults include Kensington/Fishtown, Northern Liberties and South Philadelphia. Not many of Philadelphia’s millennials own homes. Seventy-five percent of residents ages 25 to 34 are renters. For the rest of the city’s population, this number is below 40 percent.
Why did they come and where did they come from?
In 2012, about 20,000 of Philadelphia’s young adults came from another state. About 17,000 came from another county in Pennsylvania. Only about 7,000 came from a foreign country. These young adults are attracted to Philadelphia because of its low cost of living compared with other big cities on the East Coast, a large and active cultural scene and a good number of up-and-coming neighborhoods around Center City. Fifty-nine percent of the millennials surveyed said they would recommend Philadelphia as a good place for young adults to live.
What is their income?
For the most part, these young adults are not making the big bucks. Thirty percent of 18- to 34-year-olds in the city are below the federal poverty line. Citywide, this figure is 27 percent.
How many will stay and for how long?
Millennials in Philadelphia are not overwhelmingly optimistic about the city’s future. While 54 percent of millennials expect Philadelphia to be a better place five years from now, half said they were likely to leave. Of those, 38 percent said they expected to leave for job/career reasons, 29 percent said they expected to leave for school and child-upbringing reasons, and 22 percent expect to leave for crime and safety reasons. Perhaps the starkest statistic is that 56 percent would not recommend the city as a place to raise children.
The Pew survey was conducted by telephone from July 23 to Aug. 13, 2013. A total of 1,605 city residents ages 18 and older were sampled. And 524 people ages 20 to 34 were interviewed.