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More people calling Philly home, study finds

The number of people moving into Philadelphia has steadily risen over the past 16 years, according to a new study that supports recent census estimates that show the city's population stabilizing.

The number of people moving into Philadelphia has steadily risen over the past 16 years, according to a new study that supports recent census estimates that show the city's population stabilizing.

The report on migration patterns from the Pew Charitable Trusts' Philadelphia Research Initiative explains that while there are still more people leaving than entering the city each year, the difference has dropped in recent years. Aided by births and foreign immigration, the city's population is rising, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to IRS data analyzed by Pew, the city suffered a net-population outflow of 9,846 in 2008, compared with 20,284 in 1995. The data, which do not include information about births, deaths or foreign immigration, show just one part of residency patterns.

"This is another piece that tends to support this idea that the population of the city has stabilized and perhaps is growing," said author Larry Eichel, project director of the Philadelphia Research Initiative.

In the spring, the Census Bureau released its first 2009 estimate for Philadelphia, putting the city's population at 1,547,297 as of July 2009. That's about 30,000 higher than in 2000.

Mayor Nutter said that the Pew report reinforces that Philly is moving in the right direction.

"These are all positive signs, and it's an indication that people are feeling positive about the city," Nutter said.

According to the report, the population loss from the city to the four surrounding suburban Pennsylvania counties has declined. Roughly the same number of people left Philly for the suburbs in 1993 and 2008, but more people moved from the suburbs into the city in 2008.

Overall, the city's net outflow to the Pennsylvania suburbs was 7,352 in 2008, compared with 10,338 in 1993. Eichel said that some of the gains might be attributed to baby boomers moving back into the city.

"Obviously, anecdotally, that seems to be what's happening," Eichel said.

Looking east, the net-population loss from the city to the New Jersey suburbs has dropped even more dramatically. In 1993, the city suffered a net outflow of 1,441 people to Camden County. In 2008, that number was just 591.

"The number of people moving into Philadelphia has been relatively constant," Eichel said. "The number of people moving out to Jersey has been dropping."

The report also notes that the number of people moving from New York City to Philadelphia skyrocketed between 2002 and 2006. But the number of people leaving Philly for New York also rose in recent years, so by 2008 the net gain from New York was just 212.

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