Vaccine distribution started slowly in Philadelphia with 103,926 residents receiving their first dose by the end of January. New cases have declined modestly, but until the logistics of both supply and distribution are resolved, the near term will be challenging and the economic recovery slow. However, as vaccinations ramp up, the pace of recovery will accelerate.
Mirroring national trends, Philadelphia shed 6,800 jobs in December, primarily due to losses in food services and drinking places, resulting from tightened local restrictions. Employment losses and the impact of suburban residents working remotely impacted City wage tax receipts, which were down 11% in the fourth quarter of 2020. They also account for limited SEPTA ridership, weak parking demand and diminished pedestrian counts.
After gradually rising through the early fall, Center City pedestrian volumes ended the year at 40% of pre-pandemic levels, due to the absence of workers at their desks, cancelled conventions and trade shows, fewer students and shoppers. Staying at home however, reinforced the housing market, as both the volume of transactions and sale prices rose in Center City and the city as a whole. Developers and investors remain confident in long-term prospects: residential construction continued, new projects broke ground, others were announced. The prospects for another federal relief package and expectations that, after initial stumbles, vaccine distribution will ramp up, have prompted predictions of a strong economic recovery by the end of 2021.
For graphics, charts and a narrative of trends, download- Monitoring Philadelphia’s Economic Recovery.