• Steve Wray
Categorized As:
Regional Direction

Tracking Progress for Smarter Investments

Back in 2009, we launched the World Class initiative with the goal of developing and sustaining a new way of working together to achieve big goals for our region. And over the last several years, we’ve engaged countless civic and business leaders not only to establish a shared vision of a World Class future for Greater Philadelphia but also to identify the key strategies we need to pursue to get there.


With the Global Positioning Strategies laying out this shared playbook for our region, the Economy League has begun a crucial new chapter of the ongoing World Class effort – tracking progress. Over the past several months, we have brought together some of our region’s finest data and program experts to help us select nearly 30 key talent, business growth, and infrastructure indicators to monitor across the entire World Class agenda.


We’ll be releasing a comprehensive analysis of these indicators via our first-ever World Class Index at the World Class Summit on July 9. Here’s a sneak peek at how the region fares on the World Class agenda’s two overarching goals: increasing economic growth and expanding opportunity for our region’s residents.


Employment Growth


Since hitting a recession-induced employment low in February 2010, Greater Philadelphia has added 77,000 jobs, or 2.9% of total regional employment. However, this rate is the slowest of the ten largest US metros during this period. This lagging performance compared to peer metros is also true for small business employment, which is down 2.7% in our region since the start of the recession. The only county within the region that experienced small business job growth between 2008 and 2012 has been Philadelphia (+3%).


Income Inequality


While regional measures of income inequality in Greater Philadelphia are in line with the national average, our area experienced the second-largest rise in income inequality among the ten largest US metros between 2008 and 2012. The wide disparity in median income across Greater Philadelphia’s communities remains a major challenge to economic opportunity, and poverty rates remain above 10 percent for six out of the 11 counties in our region.




While these top-level indicators certainly point to some troubling trends, they don’t tell the whole story. That’s why, through the World Class Index, we will pair analysis of key regional indicators with stories about organizations and individuals who are working to move these numbers in the right direction. This year’s Index will take a deeper look at pre-k access, technology transfer, and global connections at PHL International Airport. In addition to this annual benchmarking report, the Economy League will continue to release online content throughout the year via our newsletter and blog that provides insights into what’s driving progress for our region and what’s holding us back.


I hope you’ll join us at the World Class Summit on July 9 to learn more and hear from our keynote speaker, IBM Smarter Cities head Michael Dixon. As Dixon will note, smarter cities and regions around the globe are relying upon the right data and metrics more than ever to drive high-impact investments. We’re excited for our region’s business, civic, public sector, and philanthropic leaders to use the World Class Index as a new tool to spur smarter investments within Greater Philadelphia.