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September 19, 2019

60,000 people move out of Philadelphia every year — here's why

Jobs are the biggest reason people leave the city, but there are other factors, too, according to a Pew survey

Relocation Survey
Philadelphia moving out Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Most Philadelphians are not 'fleeing' the city, but rather leaving for other job opportunities elsewhere, according to new survey of 1,000 residents who left Philly between Nov. 13 and Dec. 12, 2018, conducted by Pew of Charitable Trusts.

More than 60,000 people leave Philadelphia every year, but it's not just one factor causing them to move out, according to a first-of-its-kind survey. 

Pew of Charitable Trusts reached out to 1,000 people who moved out of the city between Nov. 13 and Dec. 12 of last year. They found that there were multiple different reasons why they left, ranging from job opportunities to school options.

Half of the people who left Philadelphia proper still stayed within the greater Philadelphia region.

One thing known for sure from the data is that people are not "fleeing" from the city. Pursuit of a job opportunity was the greatest motivation for people leaving. The study found that accounted for 26% of residents who left. Of those who moved out and left the region, 44% said they did so for employment opportunities. 

Among the other reasons people said the left Philadelphia were crime and safety (14%), cost of living (12%), housing (11%), and schools (11%). People who stayed within the region but left the city commonly did so due to schools, public safety, the cost of living, and housing. 

Thirty-one percent of residents with children responded that they left the city for schools. Seventy-five percent of those who moved out of the city then went to public schools, while only 47% reported attending public school while living in Philadelphia. 

Of the 1,000 people surveyed, 70% still described Philadelphia as a good or excellent place to live. The highest ratings, 81%, came from those with moved to the city after childhood, while the lowest, 50%, came from those born in Philadelphia and those older than 50. 

But even though people mostly gave Philly with high marks, 66% said that their quality of life had improved after they moved. Thirty-eight percent reported missing many things about the city, while 42% missed just some things, and 20% said they didn't miss anything at all. 

Since this is the first survey to examine the cause of people leaving Philadelphia, there is no way to compare the data to previous motivations for leaving the city.  

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