Philadelphia’s Economy

Philadelphia, PA, USA, May 25, 2016

Changes in Workforce Opportunities

The state of Philadelphia’s economy is a story of change from past patterns. Specifically, changes in the industries supporting Philadelphia’s economy, and the changing nature of work have impacted workforce development and the economic focus of our region.

A Changing Industry Mix

In 1970 one in three Philadelphia workers was employed in manufacturing. Today, one in ten works in manufacturing. Philadelphia has become a knowledge-based economy, with three in ten Philadelphians employed in Education, Health, and Social Services. Our largest private sector industries of healthcare and education require large numbers of workers with advanced skills, abilities, and knowledge. Follow to the next section to read about how the occupational shifts reflect changing work.

The Changing Nature of Work

Work has changed since 1970. Typewriters are technology of the past. Today, office workers use computers to schedule meetings, coordinate multiple calendars, and track information. Manufacturing workers control machinery via digital readouts requiring interpretation and must coordinate with teams across the plant. Workers need strong foundations to be flexible, learning employees. Philadelphia’s current occupational mix reflects both changes in the economy and in the skills needed to support the industries.

Learn More »

Industry Mix Charts


Source: the 2009-2011 American Community Survey, the 1970 Census data from IPUMS. Employment status filter was applied to the data, eliminating individuals not actively employed.

The Census Bureau modifies their definitions to reflect changing work. Comparisons across time require reconciliation of these occupational codes. While a perfect match is not possible across time periods, standardized methods allow comparisons of different time periods.  For example, in the reconciled industry classification Transportation, Communication, and other Public Utilities several industry groups are joined. The Information sector, which represents its own category in the 2011 classification, is a part of this same group in for the across time comparison.


Philadelphia's Economy

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, the 2009-2011 American Community Survey, the 1970 Census, tables were prepared using IPUMS online data analysis system. Industry definitions changed from 1970 to 2011 and IPUMS crosswalk method was used to align the classifications across time. Employment status filter was applied to the data, eliminating individuals not actively employed. Because of the definitional changes, this comparison chart is best used to show trends in employment by industry rather than actual changes in the number employed.