Press release

State of Center City 2022: Does Philadelphia Have What It Takes to Recover?

JoAnn Loviglio
T 215.440.5546


Center City District/Central Philadelphia Development Corp. report examines Philadelphia’s signs of recovery, and remaining challenges, after two years of profound disruption

PHILADELPHIA (May 5, 2022) – Today at the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation’s (CPDC) quarterly meeting, Center City District (CCD) released State of Center City 2022, an annual data-driven overview, organized by employment sector, that examines the latest trends in both in Center City and in the broader Philadelphia economy.

Distilling a wealth of up-to-the-minute data from city, state, and national agencies; local organizations and businesses; and CCD’s own surveys, pedestrian counts, research and analysis, this comprehensive 70-page report makes policy recommendations for local leaders on how Philadelphia can fully recover from the last two years of disruption and catch up with peer cities in long-term, family sustaining job growth that creates opportunity for all. Among the key findings in this year’s report:

Our recovery so far:

  • Average pedestrian volumes downtown returned to 86% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of April.
  • 80% of retail and restaurant storefronts within the Center City District are open or have obtained tenants.
  • Average daily room rate in Center City hotels rose from $156 in 2020 to $182 in 2021, just 10% below 2019 levels.
  • By the first quarter of 2022, Philadelphia as a whole had restored 70% of the 126,500 jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic.
  • Research institutions in Philadelphia received $1.1 billion in National Institutes of Health funding in 2021, fourth in the nation.

Our ongoing challenges:

  • In February 2022, we were still 38,500 jobs below pre-pandemic levels.
  • At 70% job recovery, we lag the region, which has restored 84% of lost pre-pandemic jobs, and the nation, which has regained 87% of lost jobs.
  • Philadelphia’s slow recovery mirrors the slow growth experienced from 2010 to 2019, when the city added private sector jobs at the rate of 1.5% per year, placing us 26th among counties covering the 30 largest cities.
  • In 2019, Boston had 31% more salaried jobs than in 1970, New York had 20% more and Washington had 18% more; Philadelphia was 21% below 1970 job levels.

Our To-Do List to Accelerate Recovery:

  • Increasing job growth and business density citywide reduces unemployment and poverty. In Center City, maximizing the return of office workers restores employment in transportation, building services, retail and restaurants, jobs that can’t be performed remotely.
  • Renewing citywide focus on back-to-basics — clean, safe and vibrant public spaces, and enhanced emphasis on public safety, with a focus on community policing.
  • Investing in infrastructure, education, job training and access to capital for Black and brown businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • Reducing over-dependence on wage and business taxes that create disincentives for firms and workers to locate or expand in the city.

“When CCD began 31 years ago, Philadelphia was facing similar daunting challenges,” CCD President Paul R. Levy said. “Today we have many more assets and amenities to reactivate. We simply need the will, commitment and leadership to do it again.”

This year’s State of Center City begins with economic and vitality indicators we have tracked in monthly reports for the last two years. It documents a city that has restored 70% of jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic, but still lags behind an 11-county region that has regained 84% of lost jobs in a nation that has regained 87%.

The second chapter highlights the work of 148 on-street CCD staff who did not miss a single day in the last two years, expanding cleaning and safety services and reducing the daytime on-street homeless population by 25%. CCD staffers animated and programmed four parks, supported sidewalk-level businesses with restaurant and retail promotions and streetscape enhancements, while tracking and encouraging the full return to work.

Subsequent chapters of the report document the state of recovery of major employment sectors and transportation systems, highlighting the remarkable resilience of housing markets and the continuing confidence of investors and developers in Philadelphia’s downtown.

“Among Center City’s extraordinary strengths is its role as a transit-oriented, regional center with opportunities for workers at all educational and skill levels. Office, education and health care, which offer many high-skilled jobs, are also prime drivers of an economic ecosystem in which one-third of downtown jobs require only an associate degree, while another third, just a high-school degree,” Levy said. “Remote work may be convenient for some, but the return of office workers is crucial for businesses, cultural institutions and the 70,000 workers in the center of the city.”

State of Center City 2022 is available at

In The News

May 5, 2022 | Philadelphia needs more workers to return to fully recover, says Center City District, Audacy
May 5, 2022 | Center City district calls for more businesses in Philadelphia to return to office, WHYY
May 5, 2022 | Philly’s got more tourists, conventions, restaurants and shows. So why haven’t workers come back?, 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. Find us at and on Facebook and Twitter.