Since 2015, and prior to the pandemic, more people had been moving from New York City (NYC) to Philadelphia than had been moving from Philadelphia to New York City, based on a CCD analysis of Census data.1 After losing more people to NYC than migrated to Philadelphia from 2010 to 2014, net migration to Philadelphia turned positive in 2015 and increased each year since, reaching a net positive of 1,790 in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available. The positive trend reflected both increased moves from NYC to Philadelphia (4,568 in 2018) and declining moves from Philadelphia to NYC (2,778).
These trends correspond with a significant increase in employment in Philadelphia that began in 2014 when
Philadelphia job growth jumped from +3,000 in 2013 to +8,400 in 2014 and continued to accelerate to +14,900 jobs in 2018. Job growth continued in 2019 and early 2020, prior to the pandemic.
There was significant positive net migration to Philadelphia from the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens each year from 2010 to 2018. Beginning in 2014, there was also positive net migration from the Bronx to Philadelphia. This was offset by a consistently greater net migration from Philadelphia to Manhattan. However, the net migration to Manhattan declined from over 1,100 in 2014 to just 150 in 2018.
The greatest migration from Philadelphia to NYC was among those ages 20 to 29, which probably includes many residents of New York City who attend Philadelphia colleges and universities returning home upon graduation, as well as area graduates seeking their first jobs in New York. The greatest net migration in Philadelphia’s favor was among those ages 35-39 and 50-64, as well as those ages 5-19, which includes both children of adults moving to Philadelphia and freshmen entering Philadelphia colleges and universities.
Based on these past trends, Philadelphia’s biggest opportunity for continued residential growth once the economy begins to recover clearly appears to be drawing adults over 35 and families with children from the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. Particularly for those who are working remotely, the quality and affordability of Philadelphia’s expanding ring of neighborhoods around Greater Center City and the ease of transit connectivity to Center City and University City, where 53% of Philadelphia’s jobs are located, can serve as a basis for an attraction campaign.
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 Data from American Community Survey five-year estimates, obtained from the US Census Bureau’s Census Flows Mapper, available at https://flowsmapper.geo.census.gov enable us to track both the number of New Yorkers moving to Philadelphia and the number of Philadelphians moving to NYC. A net positive number means more New Yorkers are moving to Philadelphia than are moving the other way.