There was a time when Philadelphia, the so-called Workshop of the World, and its surrounding towns and cities (see: Bethlehem, Allentown, et al.) produced more goods than services. Fabric Row, site of the terrible fire this weekend, represented that bygone way of life, when–in the 19th and early 20th centuries–Philadelphia was known as a dominant manufacturing hub for textiles, as well as tobacco, locomotives, carriages, dyes, iron and so much more.
Obviously, this economy has changed — not only in Philadelphia, but in the nation as a whole. Now, as Richard Florida reports in The Atlantic Cities, “for the U.S. economy as a whole, the ratio of services to goods is roughly 3 to 1 (3.22).”
But there is considerable geographic variation: 210 metros rank well above this average ratio — including 40 of the 50 largest metros (those with more than one million people) — and 154 are below the average.
Of the top 20 large metros (1 million-plus) that “score highest on the ratio of services to goods,” Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington is No. 10, with a ratio of 5.33.
As Florida points out, “many metros along the Bos-Wash corridor have high service to goods ratios: Boston ranks fifth, Baltimore sixth, Philadelphia 10th, Hartford 11th, and Providence 20th.” Next time you take Amtrak and look out the windows at abandoned industrial blight, you’ll remember this study.
• America’s Most Post-Industrial Metros [The Atlantic Cities]