2021 Walnut Street Holiday Planters


Center City Digest, Winter 2021

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Come back to the office, there’s work to do

Slow but steady best describes Philadelphia’s recovery, as we’ve averaged 1,600 more jobs each month since July 2020. Recent growth has been led by educational services, leisure, hospitality and government, though we still are 69,000 jobs short of the citywide employment levels in February 2020.

Rising transit ridership, parking occupancy and pedestrian volumes in Center City reflect the staying power of downtown residents, the full return of colleges and universities (most mandated vaccination for students and employees), the reopening of performing arts venues, the steady return of tourists, convention attendees, regional shoppers and the partial return of office workers.

In October 2021, we averaged 309,600 pedestrians per day in Center City, 75% of January 2020 levels, the highest volumes in 20 months. But on West Market Street and JFK Boulevard, activity was just 26% of prepandemic levels with 84,000 office workers still absent from Center City each day. Nationally, 78% of lost jobs have been recovered; the 11-county region has recovered 69% of its jobs. Philadelphia’s rate of recovery is just 46%.


  • Recovery
  • Meet our Essential Workers
  • CPDC Reports
  • CCDF
  • Retail
  • Streetscape
  • Winter at Dilworth
  • CSR Moses Pierce Retire

With 70% of Philadelphians ages 12 and over, and 85% of residents 65 and older, vaccinated twice by December 1, with boosters widely available for adults, with children ages 5 to 11 already in line, the city has made extraordinary progress toward a goal we once thought of as herd immunity. Breakthrough cases and new variants have given reason for caution and prudence. But crowds are comfortably returning to sports arenas, theaters and concert halls, bars and restaurants. So what’s the problem with offices, where social distancing and masking in common areas is much easier to achieve?

To read the full newsletter, download Center City Digest, Winter 2021