By Todd DeFeo
Pennsylvania cities are experiencing relatively slow growth and lag behind the pace of many other cities in the nation, a new report reveals.
Bethlehem was the fastest-growing city in Pennsylvania, but it ranked No. 259 out of the 515 municipalities WalletHub analyzed nationwide. Philadelphia ranked No. 320, followed by Allentown (No. 335), Reading (No. 348), Pittsburgh (No. 408), Scranton (No. 438) and Erie (No. 513).
In determining its rankings, WalletHub analyzed 17 growth and decline metrics over seven years, including population growth, job growth and how much the unemployment rate decreased.
“We found that most of these cities are growing in population and working age population at a very small rate, less than 0.5 percent,” Gonzalez added. “The situation is similar in terms of jobs, with growth rates at around 1 percent, and businesses, that are growing at a rate below 0.6 percent. Tech companies are also seeing some growth, but it is below 2 percent.”
Philadelphia had the highest population increase, growing at 0.39 percent. Conversely, Erie saw a 0.77 percent decline in the total population, according to the analysis.
In terms of the working age population, Allentown saw the most significant increase in the Keystone State, growing by 0.47 percent. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Erie saw a 0.85 percent decline in the working age population.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia was the highest-ranking Pennsylvania city for the number of new businesses, coming in at No. 386 nationwide. The commonwealth’s other cities all listed in the 400 range for the new business category, according to the analysis.
Pittsburgh was close behind, growing at 3.84 percent and ranking No. 68 for the number of startups.
Nationally, WalletHub named Lehigh Acres, Florida, as the fastest-growing city, followed by Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and Bend, Oregon. On the other end of the list, Shreveport, Louisiana, ranked No. 515, eclipsing Canton, Ohio.
Gonzalez said authorities in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio could make improvements “by developing strategies to draw in more businesses and entrepreneurs.”
“This would in turn create more jobs, and help cities grow both demographically and economically,” Gonzalez said. “To do this, they should invest in things like infrastructure, and amenities such as music and sports venues, educational facilities and parks.”