Thursday, June 30, 2005

Good News for the Hometown

We're Still Number 5!

According to newly released estimates of the cities' populations, Philadelphia retains a slight edge on the Arizona capital, 1,470,151 to 1,418,041.

The numbers, which project populations as of July 1, 2004, come as something of a surprise. Estimates after the last decennial census declared that Phoenix would pass Philadelphia about May 17, 2004, and sparked a round of City Hall finger-pointing a year ago.

But those estimates assumed the cities would evolve at the same rate they did during the 1990s, when Philadelphia shrank by 4 percent and Phoenix grew by a torrid 34 percent.

Instead, Philadelphia's rate of decline slowed for four straight years. Last year, it lost only an estimated 6,802 residents, 0.5 percent of the population. That was better than 43 other big cities.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of retaining population for cities in general, and this city in particular. Urban renewal is not possible without the people to invest in their homes and neighborhoods. Homes are not bought in abandoned neighborhoods and businesses don’t get started without customers.

Naysayers in the Inquirer article refuse to get excited over the lessening of the population hemorrhage:

Critics, many of whom blame high taxes for a 45-year population slide, were less impressed. "It's pretty sad to turn cartwheels over the fact that we're only losing a half a percent of our population every year," said Brett Mandel of the antitax group Philadelphia Forward. "We want to be a city that is growing."

This kind of pessimism is ridiculous. Any progress in the right direction is worthy of celebration. Just because you recognize that high taxation is an obstacle to growth doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy other factors offsetting some of that liability and helping to cauterize the urban flight wound. The more folks that stay and fight for the city, the better the chances of reform taking place, and the closer our shared goals of lower taxation and stronger economic growth are to becoming reality.

So enough with the naysaying. The turnabout has begun, and sure, Philly’s got a lot of room for improvement, and net population growth is still a few years off, but we’ve got a hell of a lot going for us too, and fulfilling this city’s boundless potential begins with fewer people leaving and more people deciding this is a place worth investing in.


Anonymous Maia said...

What was that, Rox? Optimism?

You must have MOVED here from somewhere else.

3:44 PM  
Blogger rox_publius said...

i dunno...

maybe i was drunk at the time...

6:37 PM  

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