This week the personal finance website WalletHub released a report titled 2015’s Best & Worst Large Cities to Live in, and of the 62 U.S. cities with a population of more than 300,000, Philadelphia ranks 60. The only cities that fared more poorly were Memphis (61) and Detroit (dead last).
Now, normally, I’d look at a study like this and say, with characteristic Philadelphian brio, “Screw you, WalletHub! What do you know? You’re just pumping out content-marketing blather so that people will BuzzFeed you. Surely, your ‘study’ is slight, frivolous and easily debunked.”
In order to get these rankings, WalletHub established four key dimensions — livability; education; health; and local economy and taxes — with 31 differently weighted relevant metrics. Some of these metrics were taken from prior WalletHub studies, each of which had numerous metrics of their own. So what may seem, at first glance, to be a fatuous listicle, is actually a pretty deep dive into research gathered, over time, from a number of credible sources — among them, the Census Bureau, the FBI, the CDC, the Council for Community and Economic Research, the National Partnership for Women & Families, and more.
Some of the lowest scores Philly got were unsurprising, such as “School System Quality” (48), which was triple-weighted, and Lowest Household Income Adjusted by Cost of Living (58). But I was surprised to see the city come in at 54 for “Most Diverse Cities in America,” so I went back to WalletHub’s prior assessment of urban diversity, upon which this ranking was based. That study used the word “diversity” in its broadest sense, looking at racial and ethnic diversity, yes, but also diversity of income, educational achievement, language use, region of birth, industry, occupation, worker-class, marital status, age, and size and type of household. Philadelphia simply does not have significant economic diversity, whether of industry type or class dispersion. I couldn’t quibble with those results, and that was just one of the 31 metrics.
Here are some other Philly-specific results from the Best and Worst:
31st – “Best & Worst Cities for Recreation”
54th – “Most Diverse Cities in America”
47th – Violent Crime Rate
60th – “Best & Worst Cities to Be a Driver”
48th – School System Quality Score
39th – “Most and Least Educated Cities”
44th – % of Adults in Excellent or Very Good Health
59th – Household Income Adjusted by Cost of Living
47th – “Job Market”
And below, a graphic to see how the rest of the country is doing:
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