Philadelphia’s Highly Educated Talent Lives and Plays in One Place and Works in Another

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Now more than ever, it’s critical that real estate investors, developers, and decision-makers understand which cities and suburbs are experiencing job growth and attracting highly-educated talent. Discover the impacts of employees in Philadelphia participating in the “reverse commute” trend, pulled from the first installment of our Ambitious Thinking Research on Smart Cities report, called “Live, Work, Play?”

Woman working at laptop and drinking coffee at shop as part of Philadelphia reverse commute trend.

Live, Work, Play in Downtown Philly

Philadelphians are part of a national reverse-commute trend. More professionals live downtown where they can enjoy a fun, urban environment and then commute out to the suburbs for work.

“Millennials graduated into uncertain economic times. After seeing their parents struggle to stay in their family homes during the recession, many wanted to rent in cities rather than buy in the suburbs, at least at the outset,” says Lauren Gilchrist, senior director of research in JLL’s Philadelphia office.

Other markets are experiencing the same phenomena. The complete report shows:

  • Major cities aren’t seeing the same momentum in jobs as they are in talent.
  • Major cities are experiencing a slight drop in their share of regional jobs.
  • Reverse commuting unsurprisingly remains a widespread fact of life across all major regions and has increased in every metropolitan area.

Today’s Talent

Job growth is happening in both the central business districts (CBDs) and the suburbs, but educated adults are increasingly city dwellers, seeking walkability, authenticity, and collaboration. The report shows untapped potential in CBDs for investors, and the need for employers to take a hard look at central city occupancy strategies as they compete for top talent. Employers are experiencing pressure to differentiate based on location, amenities, and environment.

JLL chart of jobs in suburbs vs. the city in major US cities as an illustration of Philadelphia reverse commute trend.

Philadelphia is one of the cities adding talent the fastest, but every single major city contains more educated talent today than in 2008. Because employers aren’t following the desirable labor pool into the city, Philadelphia continues to experience systemic problems such as high levels of poverty. Without job re-concentration in cities, we will continue to face daunting challenges.

Download the full report for an in-depth examination of how highly educated talent is increasingly living and playing in one place and working in another… and the opportunities this presents.

Download JLL research here