Wealth Survey Finds Pittsburgh, Philadelphia Aren’t

by Brian Vertz on February 23, 2010

Pittsburgh ranks #325 and Philadelphia ranks #360 in a recent survey of the wealthiest American cities, conducted by Portfolio.com, a website operated by American Business Journals, publisher of the Pittsburgh Business Times. Allentown ranks #392, Erie ranks 412, and Reading ranks dead last at #420 in the survey.

A quick glance at the statistics cited by the survey reveals serious flaws. In its ranking of Pittsburgh, for instance, the survey lists the population as 297,187. This means that the survey completely overlooked the population of suburban communities like Fox Chapel, Upper St. Clair, Sewickley and Mt. Lebanon. Only City boroughs such as Shadyside and Squirrel Hill were considered in the wealth survey.

Presumably, the Philadelphia survey only included the City of Philadelphia and not the affluent suburban communities in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Chester County, or Southern New Jersey. Again, these flaws would cause one to question the validity of the rankings.

The Portfolio.com survey claims that the median home value was $86,000 and the median household income was $36,709 in Pittsburgh. Yet these statistics only include the City proper. In Sewickley, the 2008 median home value was $169,960 (from city-data.com) and the median household income was $50,414. In Fox Chapel, the 2008 median home value was $574,280 and the medial household income was $187,530. In Upper St. Clair, the median home value was $243,880 and the median household income was $111,502.

It is not possible to understand the economics of Pittsburgh or Philadelphia without considering their suburban communities.

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