Philadelphia considers itself many things: A cheesesteak town. A sports town. A blue-collar town. The first two remain rock solid. The last one, not so much.
Campus Philly mined 1.2 million LinkedIn résumés to tag the largest employers for about half of the local college graduates whose institutions belong to Campus Philly.
Penn Medicine was No. 1 over the longest period evaluated. Half of the top 10 were health-related while aerospace and defense contractor Lockheed Martin put up a strong showing at No. 7. Others: Vanguard, No. 2; Comcast, No. 6, and Wawa, No. 20. The full ranked list is available online here. The LinkedIn analysis looked only at Campus Philly member colleges and Philadelphia-area employers.
The Campus Philly report, compiled by the Econsult firm, does show that education attainment among young adults in Philadelphia and its vast Pennsylvania and South Jersey suburbs has become equalized.
If you are college-educated and a millennial in the Philadelphia region, you are as likely to live in the city as in the suburbs, representing a huge demographic shift over two decades.
Tuesday’s report reinforces the idea that Philadelphia has attracted an educated and available workforce, the report’s authors said. But it also underscores the need for the city to further stoke its job-growth engine to keep millennials here as they age into their late 20s and 30s and look for higher-paying second or third jobs, they and other experts said.
“We have a millennial boom that is moving through the colleges and the rental market,” Paul Levy, president of the Center City District and a longtime city economic observer, said late last week.
Many of the demographics in Philadelphia are also national trends, Levy said. “Since the recession, young people have been less mobile than they were a decade or two ago,” he said.
But Levy warned that "if the rate of job growth [in Philadelphia] does not keep up, these young people who are carrying a lot of college debt are going to go where the good jobs are, not where the good bars are.”
The Center City District’s annual report, released last April, noted that “since the recession, Philadelphia’s rate of growth has been slower than 23 other major cities.” Still, Levy said that 2018 was a good year for job growth in Philadelphia. An updated Center City report will be released later this month, he said.
Other findings in Campus Philly’s report that looked at Census data in addition to LinkedIn resumes:
Among big cities, Philadelphia (+115 percent) had the second-highest growth in bachelor degree holders between 2000 and 2017 after Washington, D.C. (+129 percent).
Between 2000 and 2014, Philadelphia retained 54 percent of its college graduates while Boston kept 42 percent.
The brain drain of 20 or 30 years ago with young people fleeing Philadelphia for other metro areas has reversed itself into what could be called a brain gain.
Philadelphia lost about 3,000 millennial-age adults between 1990 and 2000, a lost decade and a period so economically difficult that some believed the city might have to file for bankruptcy protection. But 118,000 millennials boosted the city’s population between 2000 and 2017, according to the report.
“What is the consequence of having so many more well-educated young people living in the city? The consequence is that there is a lot more earning power in the city,” said Lee Huang, senior vice president and principal at Econsult.
Anna Ladd, 24, of Sterling, Va., is one of those young adults who has made the city her home after graduating in 2016 from the University of the Arts with a degree in photography. She relocated to Boston for two years, but couldn’t find a job and found that the cost of living was high. So she returned to Philadelphia.
Ladd said that in her South Philadelphia neighborhood, "everybody seems to be about 32.”
Ladd works at the Kimmel Center on South Broad Street, where she’s on the digital marketing team. Her only real concern is the steam wafting from grates in the sidewalk. Ladd doesn’t like the smells and neither do her visitors.
Campus Philly was organized in 2004 to encourage young people to remain in Philadelphia after they graduated college. Its members include 35 colleges and 40 corporate members. The group runs an intern platform at campusphilly.org/launch. According to the latest data, 682 internships were posted on the site over the last year by 466 firms. A firm does not have to be a member of Campus Philly to post an internship. More than 3,000 students used the site. They also don’t have to be students at Campus Philly member colleges.
Deborah Diamond, president of Campus Philly, said that about 15 percent of the students on the Campus Philly internship site don’t attend member colleges and may be looking for internships here.
Diamond was excited about the LinkedIn data, she said, because it’s “self-reported by students and we are not surveying anybody.” She added that “we could never survey 1.2 million people around the world so the volume is incredible.”