The Census Bureau says household incomes in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metro areas didn't change much in the last year, and that's part of a trend that some refer to as treading water: The economy isn't going down, but it's not going up very fast, either.
The American Community Survey released Thursday found that household income in Philadelphia was about $60,000 in 2012, and 13.4 percent of the population lived in poverty, similar to the previous year.
In Pittsburgh the core numbers didn't change much, either: Household income was about $50,000 in 2012 and 12.1 percent of the people lived in poverty. The Pittsburgh poverty rate was down from 12.6 percent in 2011, but the Census Bureau said that's not an important statistical difference.
Some experts say it will take years for the Pennsylvania economy to recover from the recent recession.
“This is a reflection of the weak economy,” said Mark Price, an economist at the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg. “We're going to see the end of this decade before we see full employment, and that's sort of a scary thing to think about.”
Price said the impact of the slightly-growing economy can show up in different ways.
“A lot of people are staying in jobs longer than they used to in the past” because of fears they won't find another, Price said, and other people “are just sort of treading water.” He added that it is “really troubling” to see how slowly jobs are coming back, even if it's clear the overall economy is in recovery.
The Census Bureau also said the number of 3- and 4-year-olds in school in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh didn't change significantly between 2011 and 2012. But Philadelphia leads in that category, 57.4 percent to Pittsburgh's 53.6 percent.
There are significant differences between the two cities on foreign-born population. In Philadelphia 9.8 percent of area residents were foreign-born in 2012, compared with 3.3 percent in Pittsburgh.
Home prices are also very different: In Philadelphia the median price was $235,100 in 2012, compared with $124,300 in Pittsburgh.