Philadelphia and its suburbs have been a refuge for people through the Great Recession, but now there’s not quite the same draw. Population growth in the Philly area has dwindled, and the city is quickly being passed over by faster-growing places like Washington, D.C.; Phoenix and Miami.
Apart from 1986 and 1987, Philly’s population shrunk between 1971 and 2006, then spiked from 2007 to 2009. It has been growing ever since, but steadily more slowly, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates cited in a Philly.com report by Mari A. Schaefer.
The largest gains have been in the city of Philadelphia itself, though Montgomery and Chester counties have also experienced strong growth — until last year. Chester County grew less than half as much in 2016 as it did in 2015.
Meanwhile, Montgomery County’s growth accelerated in 2016 — even surpassing Philadelphia’s for the first time in recent years. Delaware County has managed to consistently sustain small growth margins.
The Chester County Planning Commission’s Brian O’Leary hopes an imminent expansion of housing availability across Phoenixville, Great Valley, Exton, Kennett Square and Malvern will help the county bounce back this year.
Meanwhile, the city of Phoenix is threatening to overtake Philly’s No. 5 ranking, and the Philly metro area could drop a spot to No. 8 behind metro Miami.
Read much more about the population dynamics in Philadelphia and the suburbs on Philly.com here.