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October 02, 2017

Report: Philadelphia is the largest distressed city in the U.S.

Reports Economics
Stock_Carroll - Benjamin Franklin Parkway Philly Skyline Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway on a hazy and hot summer day.

Philadelphia ranks as the ninth most distressed city in the United States, according to a recent study released by the Economic Innovation Group.

The group’s 2017 Distressed Communities Index reflects areas in the U.S. where economic disparity is most felt and areas where the economy seems most successful – painting a bigger picture of a country at odds with itself.

Researchers measured each area's distress level by examining at seven categories: the percent of the adult population with no high school diploma, the housing vacancy rate, population of adults not working, the poverty rate, the median income ratio, percent change in the number of jobs and percent change in the number of business establishments.

The study’s authors analyzed these metrics for America's largest cities, compiling a list of the 10 most distressed locations. Philadelphia came in at No. 9, but it also showed the highest population on the list, by far. Detroit (which ranked No. 4 on the list) has a population of 690,070, second to Philadelphia’s 1,555,070 residents.

Both Philadelphia and Detroit’s past industrial economies contributed to their high levels of distress, the study said.

“Seven of the 10 most distressed large cities in the country are major urban cores in the Northeast or Midwest, and Stockton, CA, is a western city with a similar industrial history,” the report reads.

“In some of these cities, age itself appears to be part of the burden – the median home was built 68 years ago in Detroit and Philadelphia, for example, likely contributing to the cities’ high housing vacancy rates and signaling a severe and prolonged lack of residential investment.”

West Coast cities, in general, seem to be faring better, according to the report. San Francisco, Seattle and Austin, Texas, all ranked within the report's top 10 of the least distressed cities.

View the full report here