Montgomery County has grown so much as a job hub that more people now commute from Philadelphia into the county than the other way around.
The so-called "reverse commuting" trend was documented in this year's "Philadelphia 2013: The State of the City" report by the Pew Charitable Trusts. It shows that 68,986 Philadelphians head out to Montgomery County for work, surpassing the 64,575 Montgomery County workers who head into town for jobs. Of all the suburban counties in the Greater Philadelphia Region, Montgomery County is the only one that has reversed the commuting trend.
"We know how the suburban area has been expanding out of Philly for some time. There's been an exodus out of the city," said Bill Sholly, an industry and business analyst at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor.
Pharmaceutical company, Merck & Co. is the county's largest employer, according to the labor department. Abington Memorial Hospital is the second largest.
"Montgomery County is importing jobs, in essence growing the economy," said Larry Merlis, the hospital's chief executive officer. "It's a great place to start a business and work due to a multitude of factors."
Lucinda Dautrich counts attitude among the factors that propel her out of the city every day.
"The people are so friendly here," said Dautrich. She travels 25 minutes to and from her home in Roxborough.
"Everyone who I've come into contact with has been phenomenal. People look out for each other here." she said. "There's a sense of family and community. It's a common bond that brings people together."
The work force in Montgomery County is made up now of more people who live outside the county than inside, and commuters from Philadelphia are just a portion of that population, according to OnTheMap, a portal provided by the U.S. Census.
The following numbers are based on a worker's primary job in 2010:
- 260,967 - People work in Montgomery County and live outside the county.
- 181,648 - People live in Montgomery County but work outside the county.
- 181,587 - People live and work in Montgomery County.
"We are proud we are a net importer of workers," said Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro. The number of companies registered to do business in Montgomery County is 29,000.
The key industries are health care, life sciences and education. According to Shapiro, Montgomery County has more manufacturing jobs than any other county in Pennsylvania and more high-tech jobs are emerging.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry lists the Pennsylvania top 50 employers in each county. For the third quarter of 2012, the following companies made the top 10. The list is based on the total number of workers.
- Schering Corporation [Merck & Co]
- Abington Memorial Hospital
- Main Line Hospitals
- State Government
- Giant Food Stores LLC
- Montgomery County
- Smithkline Beecham Corporation
- Federal Government
- Lockheed Martin Corp
- Wal-Mart Associates Inc
"Montgomery County has a lot to offer. It's an attractive place to work and place to live," said Merlis.
"We have a wonderful reputation. People want to work here."