Center City no 'suburb', says Paul Levy

Re my column in today's Inquirer, in which I asked if Philadelphia's simultaneously rising downtown population and falling employment base means it's becoming a suburb, Center City District chief executive Paul Levy, whose data I cited, sent a couple of dissenting notes. Highlights:

"Joe, the usual definition of 'bedroom community'  is an area which is almost exclusively residential and from which people commute to work elsewhere... The overwhelming majority of downtown residents work downtown. The next largest locale is work in University City. 

"What has evolved is what will probably be the emerging form if we are truly entering the post-petroleum ago - a mixed-use, live/work community.  Even citywde, our research refutes the notion that Philadelphians mostly commute to work in the suburbs. Revenue Department data from 2005 showed that only 18% of Philadelphia resident wages were earned from employers outside the city - we know this, because they have to withhold wage tax."

Also,"Center City is the largest employment node in the region generating over $14 billion in annual salaries... Far from being a bedroom community, it is the job base that supports nearly every neighborhood in the city because downtown jobs are accessible by transit." Suburbs, too, he added...