Butkovitz Releases Ominous Numbers On Philadelphians’ Spending Habits
What better person than our city controller to spread some holiday cheer? If you recall, Alan Butkovitz made our Noisemakers list for 2010 for doing a thorough and diligent job as the city’s watchdog. But damn, Alan, can we get a minute to breathe before you ram some more depressing statistics down our throat? In his latest monthly economic forecast, Butkovitz details city residents’ spending habits. His numbers show that while many are tightening their belts thanks to the unrelenting economic recession, the average Philadelphia household is spending nearly three quarters of their yearly income.
From Butkovitz’s Monthly Report:
In Philadelphia and its suburbs, the avg. household earns almost $77,000 and spends 74 percent of it. In Philadelphia County, the avg. (mean) household income is $51,037. Across the Philadelphia region, 37 percent is spent on housing, while 11 percent is spent on food and 14 percent is spent on transportation. When comparing dollar amounts, individuals in the Philadelphia region spend more than the U.S. avg. in every main category except for health care. Nationally, the avg. American spends $3,126 annually and those in the Philadelphia region spend $3,036 for health care.
Surprisingly, Philadelphia residents also spend $45 more per year on entertainment than New York City residents, but we spend significantly less on fruits and vegetables (cool?) than both New York City and Boston ($118 and $180, respectively). Consider that the cost of living in Philadelphia is less than most major American cities, and these numbers look even worse.
The good news is for the fourth straight month, monthly revenue collections have been higher than they were in 2009, a minor victory to be sure, considering how large the city deficit is, but hey, the city needs its dollars any way it can get them.
Tax revenues (City & PICA) for November totaled $171.8 million, a 3% increase from the previous month, and $18.3 million more than collections in November 2009. Year-to-date revenue collections totaled $878 million, a 12% increase compared to this collection period one year ago.
Wage/Earnings/NPT (City & PICA) collections totaled $130.16 million for the month, an increase of $2.4 million com- pared to last year at this time. This is the fourth-consecutive month where the monthly revenue collections totaled more than the same months from the previous year.
Monthly sales tax collections were $21.26 million, a 9% increase in collections from the previous month. With November’s collections, year-to-date sales tax revenues total $106.26 million, putting the City just over $1 million ahead of budgeted projections.
It will be interesting to see how the business privilege tax reform takes shape over the next couple of months in regards to tax revenue. While increasing the gross receipts tax would have had a negative effect on a lot of businesses, it would surely increase tax revenue for the city, while reducing the net income tax would have the opposite effect. But now, with those proposals seemingly off the table, the city will have to come up with more creative ways to increase revenue without hurting businesses. A tall order, indeed.