press release

Lowering the Barriers to Full, Inclusive Recovery

JoAnn Loviglio
T 215.440.5546


Philadelphia Employment Trends, December 2023

PHILADELPHIA (December 21, 2023) – Citywide employment has fully rebounded from the spring 2020 shutdown with 18,100 (2.4%) more jobs in October 2023 than in February 2020 and 5.5% more than five years ago. But there is a difference between the return of workers to payrolls and the return of full vitality to Center City.

While the number of nonresident workers present in Center City has been steadily rising, by November it reached 73% of November 2019 levels, according to the just-released economic recovery report from Center City District (CCD). Adding visitors and residents to worker volumes, Center City has recovered 83% of those present in November 2019.

There has been a steady rebound in traditional office employment sectors such as professional services, finance, and information services, as those jobs have surpassed 2019 levels. Still, office workers on West Market and JFK Boulevard are back at only 64%, while sectors like healthcare, retail and hospitality have on-site rates of 75%

In an interconnected economy, where the presence of one type of worker drives demand for other jobs, there is a hidden cost to remote work. Jobs tied to fuller building occupancy, like janitorial and building maintenance services, retail, parking and transportation, all remain below 2019 levels.

Moreover, the city faces financial implications connected to the refunding of $94 million in 2021 and $85 million in wage taxes in 2022 to suburban residents working from home.

As the new Parker administration seeks to address quality-of-life challenges that impact perceptions of safety in all neighborhoods and begins to update tax policies that depress job growth, Philadelphia can achieve a fuller and more inclusive recovery.

“Despite positive payroll recovery, the report underscores a larger issue: Philadelphia's historical growth trajectory since the Great Recession of 2008-2009 has been slower compared to other major urban areas in the United States,” CCD President Paul R. Levy said. “To address high poverty rates and create opportunities for all residents, more robust growth rates beyond pre-pandemic norms are essential.”

The report also highlights that job losses in Center City in 2020 and 2021 were much larger than in the same industries citywide. Since 42% of all jobs in Philadelphia are concentrated in Greater Center City, at the center of the region’s transportation system, these losses impacted the income of many citywide residents, 24% of whom work downtown. 

In rebounding from these challenges, the report highlights encouraging signs of recovery, including increased average daily visits to Center City, increased SEPTA ridership and a steady return to office work. The report suggests that a central, strategic goal should be to accelerate the job growth and business formation rates in Philadelphia.

“Mayor-elect Cherelle Parker has underscored the importance of public safety, community policing and addressing quality-of-life challenges,” Levy said. “By also establishing more competitive tax policies and by aligning educational and vocational programs around family-sustaining career opportunities, we have the opportunity to set this city on a new course of robust and inclusive growth.

Read and download the full 12-page report, at- Lowering the Barriers to Full, Inclusive Recovery.

In The News

December 22, 2023 | More people are employed in Philly than in 2019 — but many are still not going into offices, The Philadelphia Inquirer


Center City District, a private-sector organization dedicated to making Center City Philadelphia clean, safe and attractive, is committed to maintaining Center City’s competitive edge as a regional employment center, a quality place to live, and a premier regional destination for dining, shopping and cultural attractions.