A quarter of city lives in poverty

Philadelphia is climbing to the top of an unenviable list: the number of residents living in poverty.

One in four city residents lived below the poverty level in 2009, placing Philadelphia second-worst among big cities, according to a American Community Survey report. Detroit, the 11th largest city, ranked higher with 36.4 percent of residents in poverty.

The city’s poverty rate was up slightly from 24.1 percent in 2008 — no surprise considering the local unemployment rate is above 10 percent.

“I think it’s the economic downturn, I think it’s globalization, and there’s a structural change in the economy, and that’s more pronounced in industrial cities like Philadelphia,” City Controller Alan Butkovitz said of the slight increase.

The Nutter administration has used a multi-pronged approach to reducing poverty, according to its spokeswoman, Katie Martin. She cited a commitment to affordable housing, work force training and informing low-income resident about benefits.

“Those are the ways we’re going to be able to fight poverty now and in the future,” she said.

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