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Pittsburgh Is Top Ten for Job Seekers While Philly Can’t Make Top 100. Why?

The Eagles may fly, and the Steelers may stink, but when it comes to jobs, Pittsburgh is kicking Philly’s economic aspirations.

The question is, why?

A new WalletHub data analysis ranked Pittsburgh as the eighth-best city in America for job seekers, while Philadelphia was far in the back of the pack at 142nd. It’s not just that Philly is trailing the Steel City. The Delaware Valley’s economic hub can’t keep up with Rochester, N.Y., Toledo, Ohio, or Jersey City, N.J.

Now that hurts.

America’s top city for jobseekers is Scottsdale, Ariz., followed by Tampa, Salt Lake City, and Columbia, Md.

“The stark contrast between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in the 2024 job market rankings highlights the critical role of location in shaping employment prospects,” said Wallet Hub analyst Cassandra Happe. “With Pittsburgh securing an impressive 8th position and Philadelphia lagging at 142, the disparity underscores the multifaceted nature of job markets, encompassing factors such as job opportunities, employment growth, and socio-economic conditions.”

Allegheny Councilman Sam DeMarco III said some reasons for Pittsburgh’s favorability for job seekers are a higher unemployment rate of 3.7 to Philadelphia’s 3.5. There’s also a larger portion of aging residents in Pittsburgh, with 15.1 percent 65 or older compared to 14 percent in Philadelphia.

Allegheny County has also lost 12,000 residents in the last decade, DeMarco noted.

“We have a tight labor market,” said DeMarco. He noted a 2016 report on the Pittsburgh-area labor market showed those trends, saying more skilled employees are needed as Baby Boomers retire.

None of the Philadelphia city officials contacted by DVJournal would comment. Nor would the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Perhaps out of embarrassment?

Not all the news about Philly is bad, said Happe. “Philadelphia has a higher monthly average starting salary and industry variety” than Pittsburgh, she said.

However, “Pittsburgh excels in job opportunities, employment growth, lower unemployment rate, higher job security, higher median annual income, and slightly shorter work and commute time,” said Happe. “These factors contribute to the overall contrast in their rankings for the best cities for jobs in 2024.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last Friday the total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 216,000 in December, and the unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent.

Employment continued growing in government, health care, social assistance, and construction, while transportation and warehousing lost jobs.

Ralph E. McKinney at Marshall University’s Lewis College of Business said he believes fields associated with personal services “will see the greatest growth.”

“The healthcare industry has a critical need for nurses, caregivers, and supportive specialists. Although AI can process information more quickly than human counterparts, there is a need for individuals to supervise and review analysis. Finally, occupations in the trades (e.g., electricians, plumbers, and welders) are expected to increase,” McKinney said.

WalletHub also ranked Pittsburgh high in its best and worst places to start a career. The Steel City came in at 10th place, with Atlanta as the best. Philadelphia came in at 121.

The website used data ranging from unemployment rates to median salaries to housing and transportation costs in its evaluation.

DeMarco noted Pittsburgh has all the advantages of city life, such as cultural amenities and top-notch medical facilities, with a much lower crime rate than Philadelphia. With 300,400 residents, there were 52 murders last year.   Philadelphia had 410 homicides with 1.5 million residents.

“Crime is nowhere near as bad as Philly,” said DeMarco.

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FLOWERS: NJ Better Than PA? No Way!

First, let’s get this out of the way: I am not a New Jersey hater.

Keep your “what exit” and “which mob boss” jokes to yourself. Some of my happiest childhood memories are centered at the shore. (“Downashore,” as we say in Philly.)

I loved Chris Christie before he became the CNN Avenger against Trump, and forgave him that unfortunate affection for the Dallas Cowboys because he was a true maverick — long before John McCain ever coined the term.

Jersey tomatoes are the best in the world. Bruce Springsteen rocks (literally). And Miss New Jersey, Suzette Charles, deserved to be named Miss America even before she took the crown from a disqualified Vanessa Williams forty-some years ago.

But how on God’s earth did WalletHub rank New Jersey the second best state to live in, after Massachusetts, but Pennsylvania ranks only number 14?

I say this, not as a lifelong Philadelphian who is fully aware of our blemishes (over 500 homicides a year, huge potholes, Mayor Jim Kenney), but as someone who has traveled throughout our beautiful commonwealth and knows that anything Jersey can do, Pennsylvania can do better.

Leaving aside our politicians, who at this moment are about as mediocre as Jersey luminaries like Love Guv Jim McGreavey and several indicted South Jersey mayors, Pennsylvania has given the country a lot to appreciate, including: Mario Lanza, Mr. Rogers, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Chuck Bednarik, several Super Bowls, Shirley Jones, Jimmy Stewart, Sharon Stone, Ed Bradley, Tammi Terrell, Patty LaBelle, and Bill Cosby (he still rates major props for this writer).

And the most important thing other than Scrapple: Independence.

Were it not for this commonwealth, there would essentially be no United States. Our spirit was set ablaze at Independence Hall, our character was strengthened and molded at Valley Forge, and a century later, the ultimate sacrifice was made to preserve our union at Gettysburg. No other single state has given as much to this country as my beloved Pennsylvania.

While this may not make us “livable” enough for the jaded folks at WalletHub, it should at least give us some consideration in the Top 10.

Not everyone agrees with me, of course, and some are showing it with their feet. According to the U.S. Census, New Jersey’s population grew by 5.2 percent from 2010 to 2020, while Pennsylvania grew by just 2.4 percent. While both are well below the national 7.4 percent average, our growth was so anemic it cost us a congressional seat. That’s a problem.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, the debate rages.

Frank Clayton, a Hamilton, N.J. resident, said there, “Pennsylvania’s roads and signage should place Pennsylvania in last place.” On the other hand, Clayton said, “I can’t wait to get out of N.J.” He eventually hopes to relocate to Sarasota, Fla.

Also, on Facebook, Jenkintown resident Allison Durkin said, “I can’t imagine living in New Jersey. The roads, etc. But I hear it’s the greatest state to hike the Appalachian Trail in.”

Bryn Mawr resident Jim Yannopoulos also responded on Facebook.

“New Jersey is flat and ugly. And taxes are ridiculously high. I guess Pennsylvania, but since Massachusetts is ranked No. 1, can I choose that? Actually, I think No. 3, New Hampshire is nicer.

“All these rankings are dependent on the factors chosen and how they are weighted. I’ve seen other rankings with Utah and Montana as the best,” he added.

Cherry Hill resident Mike Mathis took issue with Yannopoulos.

“Guess you’ve never been to the northwestern part of New Jersey or the Pinelands,” Mathis said.

And Cheltenham denizen Alan Fels added, “Pennsylvania rules! Jersey is just Jersey!”

Amen, Brother Fels.

Besides the history and this debt that can never be repaid, Pennsylvania is the entire American experience in one state. We have the blue-collar heart of Baltimore, the street savvy of Brooklyn, the institutional knowledge of Washington, the horrific accent “one diphthong removed” of Boston, the natural beauty of any western state (just travel the Pennsylvania Turnpike in October and look up), and are still one of the key industrial hubs of this nation.

It’s true that we have lost some population to warmer climates, but what we lose in retirees, we gain in the young people who come to our amazing colleges and then stay, making this an even more amazing place to live.

So, to the people at WalletHub, I wish you luck on that cataract surgery you’ll need in the future. Clearly, you can’t see a thing.

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Philly Low on List of Country’s Best 100 Cities for Entrepreneurs

Benjamin Franklin, arguably Philadelphia’s most famous resident, reportedly once urged his contemporaries: “Work as if you were to live a hundred years.”

Philadelphia apparently didn’t get the message.

A new WalletHub survey of the “best large cities to start a business” ranked Philadelphia 85th among the 100 cities reviewed. That places it below cities such as Chesapeake, Va., Omaha, Nashville, and Henderson, Nev.

David Oh, an attorney and former Republican city councilman now running for mayor, said of the city’s entrepreneurs, “Those who can leave, leave.”

“Those who can start their businesses elsewhere,” he said. “And so we have that reduction. But with the vilification of entrepreneurs, which has happened over the last few years, our communities are actually electing people who vilify small business, big business, (and) landlords.”

City leaders “vilify businesses and help, you know, make things very difficult for business owners,” said Oh. “Lots of regulations that are unnecessary, penalties and things like that.”

Neither Mayor Jim Kenney nor Gov. Josh Shapiro responded to requests for comment. Shapiro campaigned in part on bringing new jobs to the state.

Kathryn Elliott, a professor of the practice of entrepreneurship and director of the Center of Entrepreneurship at High Point University, said state and local authorities “can stimulate business growth by creating a safe yet more small business-friendly legal environment, investing in the business and entrepreneurial training, reduction of bureaucratic red tape, and lastly encouraging networking collaboratively amongst businesses and investors locally and statewide.”

Oh said residents “can’t buy a soda without paying a tax in Philadelphia” (though, he claimed, heroin is easily accessible). He said the city is levying “more and more taxes” on those who have stayed behind.

“It falls upon the poor because they hear the rich are going to pay for it, but they end up paying for it. And it creates a big problem.

“I, for example, introduced bills to try to level the playing field to bring employers, large employers, to Philadelphia. My colleagues (on city council) don’t support it because that’s tainted as corporate welfare, whereas these employers go to other places because it’s more competitive.”

Michael Omansky, associate professor at the School of Business at Felician University, agreed that cities need to reduce taxes.

“They need to keep their fees down, as well as taxes at lower revenue levels,” he said. Also, officials should offer incentives for job creation and “not get in the way of the entrepreneur,” he argued.

Oh said that the city’s considerable number of taxes—a “wage tax,” a “gross receipts tax,” and others—have produced very little value relative to their cost.

“The schools, the education system, is doing very poorly,” said Oh. “So your base workforce is having a problem in terms of when you try to recruit employers here. We have a wonderful college and university system, so that’s not a problem.”

“But overall, it’s the instability of Philadelphia,” he said. “The taxes are unstable, and the business climate is unpredictable.”

The number one city choice for entrepreneurs, according to WalletHub, is Orlando, Florida, a state led by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. In fact, the top four slots went to Florida towns: Jacksonville, Miami, and Tampa, followed Orlando.

Pennsylvania’s second-largest city, Pittsburgh, came in at 96.

WalletHub’s methodology included business environments, resource access, and business costs. The analysis did not include the suburbs of the surveyed cities.

The website also used 19 metrics and gave those “weighted” importance. They included the population’s education level, taxes, capital availability, and office space cost.

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Philly Wins the Booby Prize for Drivability

For years, Philadelphia commuters have complained — or even bragged — about having the worst traffic in America.

And now it is official.

Data analysis by ranked Philadelphia dead last on its list of ‘Worst Cities for Driving.’ The site’s study considered factors including traffic volume or congestion, infrastructure, and the cost of owning and maintaining a vehicle. The ‘Bottom 10’ included Los Angeles, Seattle, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Detroit, and Philadelphia, in that order.

What makes driving in and around Philadelphia so angst-inducing? The sheer volume of traffic is an issue, of course. But other factors are in play as well.

Vince Paraveccchia works in the Juniata Park section of Philadelphia. Before this year he worked in the Oxford Circle section of the city. Paravecchia cites factors that make his daily commute from Bucks County a challenge.

“Traffic is awful,” he said. “I-95 is an absolute nightmare every morning and afternoon. There’s always a project which is barely being worked on, and it slows everything up and causes countless jams.

“Double the problems if it is raining. I’ve gotten to the point where I’d rather drive in a blinding snowstorm in Philly than a foggy, chilly rainstorm. Why? Because many of the bad drivers stay home in the snow.”

Paravecchia notes road conditions, including or especially those on major thoroughfares, add to drivers’ woes.

“There is no road in America I’ve been on worse than the Schuylkill,” he said. “I’ve driven (I-5) near Los Angeles and been a passenger in L.A. I’ve done the entire length of the Garden State Parkway, the George Washington Bridge, and New York City. The Taconic Parkway. I-287 (in New Jersey). Connecticut. Atlanta (been through with my brother but I wasn’t the driver). Florida. D.C., Boston. Pittsburgh. San Diego. They are all better than Philly. The only places that rival Philly are Delaware near Wilmington and the Maryland border (with lots of volume with nowhere to go) and parts of New York City and Boston. But in my opinion, Philadelphia is the most maddening.”

The cost of vehicle maintenance is another source of aggravation for drivers. Jill Gonzalez is a public policy expert for

“One of the reasons Philadelphia is the worst city to drive in is the high cost of ownership and maintenance,” she said. “For example, the city has the third highest average monthly car insurance premium at almost $300.”

Gonzalez cites other factors that add to the stress of driving in the city.

“Philadelphia doesn’t fare well in terms of infrastructure,” she said, “considering the poor quality of bridges where it ranks in the bottom 10. Plus, the city has a significantly higher accident likelihood compared to the national average more specifically, 67 percent higher.”

That accident rate is fueled in part by the sheer volume of traffic on narrow city streets. The problem is magnified by phenomena including drivers who engage in unique driving practices, notably abrupt lane changes, perhaps from the far right to the left-turn lane, often without signaling or refusing to pull forward into an intersection from a left-turn lane.

Vic Monaco, who resides in Bucks County, spoke to the latter issue.

“The constant thing that drives me nuts is drivers who don’t pull halfway into an intersection when waiting to make a turn,” he said. “Not sure if this is taught (it is) but it’s just common sense and courtesy. When they do this, nine times out of 10 they are the only ones who get to make a turn because others don’t get to pull forward either.”

Other common issues are trucks from Amazon, UPS, and other delivery services blocking a lane while the driver makes a delivery, traffic signals that are out of synch resulting in long delays at intersections, and motorists getting caught in the middle of an intersection when the light changes.

Drivers accept situations like those described above as things that go along with urban driving. Gonzalez suggests carpooling as a way to deal with the volume of traffic.

“Carpooling or using public transportation whenever possible are great ways to avoid and reduce traffic congestion,” she said. “That would not only lead to reduced travel time but can also lower the costs of a commute. Biking or walking to work where applicable are other ways to avoid congestion.”

For many drivers, however, carpooling is not an opinion. So, for the time being, motorists are advised to be patient, allow for extra travel time, and hope their patience lasts longer than their commute.

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