Listen for Greater Philadelphia Regional Leaders on WHYY this Month

What makes the Greater Philadelphia region such a powerhouse? You can find out this month on WHYY radio. Listen as the region’s leaders tout the diverse and highly skilled workforce available in Greater Philadelphia.

Made possible through a sponsorship with WHYY, Select Greater Philadelphia has created four 15-second radio spots that aired this summer and will continue through September. Each radio spot features a regional leader talking about the depth and diversity of skills they found in the Greater Philadelphia labor force.

During your morning or evening drive, take a moment to listen for John McNeil, President and CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Dr. Ali Houshmand, President of Rowan University, Caroline West, Senior Vice President at Shire Pharmaceuticals or Toni Lakin, Business Development Manager, Phlexglobal Inc. You might be surprised by what you learn. And, then pass it on!

“The WHYY sponsorship of air time and online banner ads provide us with a terrific opportunity to educate listeners about some of the interesting but perhaps not-so-well-known-facts about our region,” said Elizabeth Smith, Director of Interactive Marketing for Select. “And, who better way to communicate these positive messages than our area leaders?”

This marks the 7th year that Select has partnered with WHYY. Something new to the sponsorship this year is banner ads on WHYY’s website, NewsWorks. The banner ads will rotate through the remainder of 2012 at WHYY’s www.newsworks.org.

Sixty-Five Percent of Business Travelers in Greater Philadelphia Say Non-Stop Flights are Extremely Important

Sixty-five percent of business air travelers in Greater Philadelphia say that non-stop flights are extremely important according to a survey conducted by Select Greater Philadelphia and the CEO Council for Growth. Among these business travelers, Tokyo, Japan and Orange County, California are the most desired new non-stop international and domestic business destinations respectively from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL).

“We’re excited about the responses to this important survey and we value everyone’s feedback,” said Philadelphia International Airport Chief Executive Officer Mark Gale. “The results of this exercise will help us build the business case in targeting additional non-stop domestic and international destinations from Philadelphia, and further our mission as a world-class airport.”

Domestic destinations desired by business travelers for non-stop service from PHL were Orange County, CA; Austin, TX; and Honolulu, HI, while internationally Asia was the clear top choice with Tokyo, Japan; and Shanghai and Beijing, China in the top three. Top overall domestic destinations for current travel by business travelers are Chicago, Dallas and Boston.

“We applaud Select Greater Philadelphia and the CEO Council for Growth for conducting this Air Travel Survey,” said John Saler, Chairman, Government & Public Affairs Group of Stradley, Ronon, Stevens &Young, LLP and Chairman of the Philadelphia International Airport Advisory Board. ”The data will help us better understand the current travel needs of those living and/or working in the Greater Philadelphia region.”

For business travelers responding to the survey, both non-stop flight availability and convenient flight times were found to be extremely important. Over half the respondents use their organization’s corporate travel department to make travel arrangements.

“The Philadelphia International Airport is a critically important asset in the Greater Philadelphia region for business travel and to attract leisure visitors, “said Tom Morr, President & CEO of Select Greater Philadelphia and member of the Philadelphia International Airport Advisory Board. “This survey helps identify passenger demand for potential new flights in key markets. It is intended to help airlines make more informed choices about where to add flights from PHL.”

Top destinations for current travel by leisure travelers are in the West with Chicago, San Francisco/San Jose and Los Angeles rounding out the top three spots. Top domestic destinations desired by leisure travels for non-stop service from PHL were all warm weather locations domestically with Honolulu, HI; Austin, TX; and Orange County, CA in the top three, while internationally Milan, Italy; Vancouver, Canada; and Sao Paulo, Brazil were among the top choices.

Half or more of survey respondents describing their leisure or personal travel needs ranked price and non-stop flight availability as extremely important factors when booking air travel. Leisure travelers were primarily booking coach class tickets for travel. Over 80% of respondents were heading straight to the airline website to purchase their leisure airfare tickets.

The survey was distributed to members of the business and non-profit communities in Greater Philadelphia. Over 1,000 individuals responded to the survey detailing their personal and business travel needs. The goal of the survey is to use information gathered to assist the Philadelphia International Airport in their efforts to seek additional domestic and international air service.

Top Non-Stop Desired International Destinations
(Business Travel)

  1. Tokyo, Japan
  2. Shanghai, China
  3. Beijing, China
  4. Mumbai, India
  5. Milan, Italy

Top Non-Stop Desired International Destinations
(Leisure Travel)

  1. Milan, Italy
  2. Vancouver, Canada
  3. Sao Paulo, Brazil
  4. Tokyo, Japan
  5. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Top Non-Stop Desired Domestic Destinations
(Business Travel)

  1. Orange County, CA
  2. Austin, TX
  3. Honolulu, HI
  4. San Jose (US), CA
  5. San Antonio, TX

Top Non-Stop Desired Domestic Destinations
(Leisure Travel)

  1. Honolulu, HI
  2. Austin, TX
  3. Orange County (SNA), CA
  4. San Jose (US), CA
  5. San Antonio, TX

Fast-Growing Tech Company Speeds Delivery of Safe Life Science Products

Select Greater Philadelphia recently sat down with Dr. Satwik Seshasai, VP of Engineering for NextDocs Corporation, to discuss next steps for this fast-growing tech company headquartered in Conshohocken, PA.

Q: What is NextDocs?

A: NextDocs helps life sciences companies manage regulatory and clinical documents and implement quality systems to meet the FDA compliance requirements. There’s a lot of technology that has been adopted rapidly in the consumer space, particularly with mobile applications. Many studies related to connectivity between people reveal significant productivity gains. From a business perspective, the goal of a life science company is to get medicine or medical devices to patients sooner and safer. That’s where NextDocs comes in. NextDocs focuses on SharePoint-based software solutions that help life sciences companies get products to market faster and safer.

Our software allows clients to collaborate with all relevant parties and do it in a way that’s compliant with FDA and other international regulatory authorities to achieve some of the same productivity benefits resulting from today’s consumer-driven technologies. The difference is that it’s now within the context of running a clinical trial, managing the quality of the assembly process, and managing submissions to the FDA to get key products to market faster and safer.

We are an award-winning company with notable achievements including Microsoft Life Sciences Partner of the Year award for three years straight 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Q: Who are your clients?

A: Our client-base includes pharmaceutical and medical device companies combined with clinical research and academic institutions. Some major clients in the region include AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Novartis and McKesson.

Q: How long have you been around and how many people do you employ?

A: We were formed in 2006. We employ nearly 150 employees and plan to hire many more by the end of the year. In addition to its US headquarters in Greater Philadelphia, the company has its EU headquarters in Munich, Germany and an Asia Office in Tokyo, Japan.

Q: Why did NextDocs choose the Greater Philadelphia region to locate?

A: We could have chosen to grow in Boston where the life sciences sector is competitive in size to Greater Philadelphia, but chose this region as our US headquarters because of the area’s high quality of life, lower cost of doing business, and tremendous client-base of life sciences companies. Greater Philadelphia has a close-knit tech community that provides support and resources to help grow the area’s tech capacity and assist other start-ups to bring innovative products and services to market. All of these advantages combined with the region’s low cost of living and superb transportation infrastructure, cannot be found in areas like Boston, New York, San Francisco, Austin, and Seattle.

Q: How is the quality of the workforce in the region?

A: The deep pool of life science companies here has enabled NextDocs to hire key talent. We’re looking for people who would otherwise be building out highly-scalable enterprise products. If you’re a software engineer, you can apply the same skills at NextDocs, but have a more direct impact on patients.

Q: What is your role at NextDocs?

A: I am responsible for managing all aspects of the product development lifecycle, including engineering, test, release, support and documentation, as well as working with the senior leadership team on product direction and roadmap. Prior to NextDocs, I spent 9 years at IBM in technical and management roles focused on the growth of early stage products.

Q: Personally, why did you locate in the Greater Philadelphia region?

A: Given a choice to stay in Boston, where I completed my PhD at MIT, I chose to come back to Greater Philadelphia because I really love it here. I’m originally from Bucks County, PA and my wife is from Cherry Hill, NJ. It’s a great location for the tech industry and the quality of life here is terrific.

South Jersey Healthcare Sites Receive Qualification from NCCN for Affiliate Research Project

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Oncology Research Program (ORP) has qualified two sites in South Jersey from Fox Chase Cancer Center as part of its Affiliate Research Project (ARP). The qualification of these sites enhances the region’s capacity for clinical research and development.

Virtua, under the direction of Principal Investigator, Michael Entmacher, MD, includes Hematology Oncology Associates of South Jersey, Mt. Holly, NJ, and Comprehensive Cancer and Hematology Specialists, Voorhees, NJ.

South Jersey Healthcare, under the direction of PI Kush Sachdeva, MD, includes Southern Oncology-Hematology Associates, P.A. and South Jersey Radiation Oncology, P.C., both in Vineland, NJ. In addition, the Minniti Center for Medical Oncology & Hematology in Mickleton, NJ also qualified.

Virtua and South Jersey Healthcare will have access to new and innovative cancer drugs for their patients in collaboration with NCCN Member Institutions, and Principal Investigators of NCCN-funded studies will have access to NCCN-qualified community sites.

The mission of the NCCN ARP is to improve patient outcomes and to advance medical science through clinical research conducted through collaboration among the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the 21 NCCN Member Institutions, and their community-based affiliate networks. The NCCN ARP plans to approve additional sites this year to potentially support more than 50 actively enrolling ORP trials.

‘To date, the NCCN ORP has received more than $36 million in research grants from pharmaceutical and biotech companies to support investigator- initiated trials including, but not limited to, evaluation of innovative regimens, mechanism of action, and exploration of extended uses for specific agents.

“We are delighted with the addition of community affiliates. The qualification of these sites will not only enhance studies through the diversification of patient cohorts, but also expedite accrual so that important research questions can be answered in a timely manner”, said Diane Paul, Vice President of the Oncology Research Program.

SEPTA Named ‘Outstanding’ Public Transit System for 2012

SEPTA was honored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) on July 26th as it tracks to reach a 23-year ridership high. The 2012 “Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award” was awarded to SEPTA for efforts to enhance service, efficiencies and overall effectiveness. APTA, which has more than 1,500 member organizations, awards the honor annually to agencies that demonstrate leadership and help advance public transportation. SEPTA was singled out for recognition by APTA in a category that includes dozens of North America’s major transit operators.

“It is my honor to announce that SEPTA has won the 2012 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award in the category of more than 20 million trips annually,” said SEPTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “This means that SEPTA is being recognized as the best large public transportation system in North America. SEPTA’s many accomplishments and achievements are models for the rest of the public transit industry.”

SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey said the award is a testament to the hard work of the Authority’s employees.

“We are thrilled to receive this award, and honored that our peers in the transit agency have singled out SEPTA’s achievements for recognition,” Casey said. “I am so proud of the members of the SEPTA team, who are committed to serving our customers, and fulfilling our mission to improve the environment, facilitate economic growth, and sustain the quality of life in our region. This recognition is a testament to their dedication, enthusiasm, and innovative spirit.”

These efforts are also being recognized by SEPTA customers, who continue to use the system in increasing numbers. In Fiscal Year 2012, which covered the period from July 1 – June 30, riders took 339.3 million trips on SEPTA buses, trains and trolleys — the highest total since 1989.

Fiscal Year 2012 built on the steady ridership growth SEPTA has seen over recent years. Annual trips system-wide are up 32 million since 2007 — indicating success with initiatives to attract and retain new customers. SEPTA has focused these efforts on improving its aging infrastructure to better serve the region, and building a partnership between employees and riders through an effort to enhance customer service.

Ridership increases were recorded across the region and on most of SEPTA’s modes of travel during Fiscal Year 2012. There were nearly 35.4 million trips on Regional Rail, which is just shy of the 2008 ridership record. Suburban Transit Division bus, light- and high-speed rail modes jumped 4.9 percent.

SEPTA also continues to meet its annual budget mandate, despite continued economic challenges and funding cuts. Fiscal Year 2012 marked the thirteenth consecutive year in which SEPTA had a balanced budget. The Authority ended the year with a $491,000 surplus. In addition to taking aggressive action to control costs and increase efficiencies, SEPTA has worked to generate new revenue by expanding its advertising program.

Science Center Announces New Mixed-Use Tower

The University City Science Center is set to begin construction on a new 11-story tower at 3737 Market Street in West Philadelphia. The project is a joint venture between the University City Science Center and Wexford Science + Technology. Penn Presbyterian Medical Center will be the anchor tenant. Located at the northeast corner of 38th and Market Streets, the 272,700-square-foot building will feature outpatient medical facilities, ground-floor retail, and office and lab space for start-up and growing companies.

Penn Presbyterian Medical Center will occupy approximately 155,700 square feet for orthopedics and outpatient medical facilities. In addition, Good Shepherd Penn Partners will occupy an additional floor and a half in the building. Subject to Penn Presbyterian’s expansion rights, the Science Center and its joint venture partner, Wexford Science + Technology, will control the remaining 88,000 square feet in the building for other uses related to the Science Center’s mission of supporting tech-based innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development in the region.

Construction is expected to begin in September 2012 with an expected delivery date of June 2014. The project was designed by the internationally renowned architecture firm of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects in cooperation with UJMN Architects + Designers with the goal of receiving LEED Silver certification. The building is being leased by Cushman and Wakefield. Penn Presbyterian Medical Center was represented by Geis Realty Group.

In addition to serving the expansion needs of one of the major medical institutions in Philadelphia, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, this new facility will expand the capacity of the Science Center’s current research park, furthering its efforts to transform its campus into a world-class innovation center.

“Penn Presbyterian’s expansion onto the Science Center campus strengthens University City’s unparalleled reputation as an Eds and Meds hub,” says Science Center President & CEO Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D., MBA. “We are delighted that we’ll be celebrating the Science Center’s 50th anniversary in 2013 with construction cranes on our campus. It sends a positive message about the economic recovery, job creation and the desirability of University City as an innovation center.”

“This expansion will provide PPMC faculty and staff with the infrastructure necessary to better serve the Powelton Avenue, West Philadelphia, and even the Greater Philadelphia communities,” says Michele Volpe, CEO of Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. “Since PPMC was founded in 1871, it has proved to be a leader in providing top-quality patient care. Our new building will only further reinforce our commitments to excellence, our patients and our community.”

“We are very excited to continue our partnership with the Science Center with the development of 3737 Market,” says James R. Berens, Chairman, Wexford Science + Technology, LLC. “The project, as a mix of clinical, research and office uses, is a perfect match to the Science Center’s mission and Wexford’s capabilities — and is a great opportunity to cultivate University City and Philadelphia’s innovation cluster.”

Port of Philadelphia and Regional Government Officials Celebrate Channel Deepening Progress

Charles G. Kopp, Esq., Chairman of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA), welcomed Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and about a dozen federal, state, and local legislators to the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, PRPA’s largest cargo facility, on Tuesday, August 7 to laud recent progress of the Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project, and to keep momentum on the project moving forward.

The project is currently deepening the Port of Philadelphia’s main shipping channel from 40 to 45 feet, which will allow larger and more modern vessels to take on and deliver cargo not only at PRPA facilities at the Port of Philadelphia, but also public and private facilities in southern New Jersey and Delaware.

But despite the project being a true regional asset, the August 7 celebration emphasized how good the project will be for the Port of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Noting the shared state and federal commitment to the project, PA state legislators thanked the federal legislators in attendance for delivering federal dollars to the project, and the federal legislators thanked Governor Corbett for jumpstarting the project with initial state dollars.

On a dais set up next to the busy Delaware River shipping channel were the following government officials: Governor Corbett, Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley, U.S. Senator Bob Casey, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, PA State Senator Larry Farnese, PA State Reps. Bill Adolph, Bill Keller and John Taylor, Philadelphia Deputy Mayor and PRPA board member Rina Cutler, Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger, and Philadelphia City Councilmen Mark Squilla, Bobby Henon, and David Oh. Also joining Chairman Kopp and the officials onstage were PRPA Executive Director James T. McDermott, Jr. and PRPA board members Boise Butler, Capt. James Roche, and John Skoutelas.

A contract has been awarded for the next section or “reach” of the project: Reach “A”, an 11-mile stretch of the channel located in the vicinity of the Philadelphia International Airport and the Walt Whitman Bridge, is expected to be deepened beginning this September; shortly thereafter, Reach “D”, a 14-mile stretch of the channel in Delaware, is expected to be deepened beginning this December. Already, reaches “C” (12 miles) and “B” (4 miles), both in Delaware, have been deepened.

Funding for the project currently stands at $16.7 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and $29.7 million from President Obama’s FY13 Budget, assuring the viability of the project for the immediate future. “But we can’t become complacent,” said Senator Casey in a thought frequently echoed by the other legislators. “We have to keep fighting for dollars until this project is complete.” $40 million has already been spent by Pennsylvania and the $50 million by the Army Corps. The entire project will cost about $311 million.

Governor Corbett emphasized the projected economic impact of a deeper shipping channel, saying that increased cargo activity resulting from a deeper channel will deliver 8,000 to 12,000 new direct jobs at the Port of Philadelphia and up to 38,000 indirect jobs throughout the region.

The channel deepening will coincide with the current expansion of the Panama Canal, to be completed in 2015. A wider, deeper Panama Canal will deliver more ships and bigger ships, especially from Asia, to the US East Coast, and a deeper Delaware River will allow the Philadelphia regional ports to handle them. Other East Coast ports are already deepening their channels to prepare for these vessels.

Following the event, Chairman Kopp said, “We still have a while to go, as the shipping channel is 103 miles long. But seeing today’s show of support from our government leaders and the maritime industry, and keeping in mind all that we’ve already accomplished, I can’t imagine that we won’t get this project done on time and on budget, and start reaping the rewards.”

The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) is an independent agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania charged with the management, maintenance, marketing, and promotion of publicly owned port facilities along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, as well as strategic planning throughout the port district. PRPA works with its terminal operators to modernize, expand, and improve its facilities, and to market those facilities to prospective port users. Port cargoes and the activities they generate are responsible for thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the Philadelphia area and throughout Pennsylvania.

PRPA is the local sponsor for the Delaware River Main Channel-Deepening Project, partnering with the federal government to fund the deepening of the shipping channel.

P3 Legislation Signed in Pennsylvania May Aid Greater Philadelphia’s Transportation Projects

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed important legislation on July 5th that authorizes public-private partnerships (P3) for road, transit and other transportation related projects. Now Greater Philadelphia, which already has P3 legislation in Delaware and New Jersey, is well-poised for regional transportation improvements.

The private sector provides an ideal way to supplement governmental resources and share management responsibility. Increasingly, public officials are recognizing new opportunities to optimize the development and management of transportation assets and services in partnership with private entities. In some cases, advanced business concepts such as market pricing, customer orientation and outsourcing are beginning to replace the traditional cost recovery / governmental operator model.

Transportation agencies around the country are experimenting with public-private partnerships (PPPs) to deliver, operate, maintain and, in some cases, even finance highway and transit infrastructure. PPPs appear to be best-suited for large, complex projects with acknowledged need and strong governmental support. PPP’s can provide substantial benefits that may include accelerating project development and construction, transferring construction and performance risk, providing more efficient operation and superior service, introducing new technologies, and even attracting net new investment capital.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly viewed the P3 legislation as a means to fund and promote transportation projects to help provide the estimated $3.5 billion per year additional investment needed for transportation infrastructure without relying exclusively on tax revenue to fund those projects. The law provides more options to private and public parties seeking to develop transportation infrastructure in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania P3 Act (Act 88 of 2012) is limited to transportation projects, but takes an expansive view of this term. The Act authorizes the creation or improvement of a “transportation facility.” A “transportation facility” includes typical transportation structures such as bridges, roads and parking lots, but also includes multimodal facilities, airports, terminals and ports, together with their associated structures.

The CEO Council for Growth released a report in March of 2006 entitled “Thinking Outside of the Box – Addressing Greater Philadelphia’s Transportation Investment Needs through Public-Private Partnerships”. This was part of a multi-year coordinated effort to push for P3 legislation in the Greater Philadelphia region. Regionally, several neighboring states have implemented public-private partnerships for highway and transit projects. New Jersey has used PPP’s to develop two new light rail lines (Hudson-Bergen and Camden-Trenton) as well as a highway tunnel link in Atlantic City. The State of Delaware, which enacted PPP legislation in 2003, is using a public-private approach for several major highway projects. Now, for the first time in history, all New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania have P3 legislation in place.

Italian HR Services Company Lands in Delaware

The newly established International Soft Landings program at The Emerging Enterprise Center in New Castle County Delaware has attracted its second Italian company to the facility. ADHR Group SRL, an HR services company located near Bologna, Italy, will launch an expansion into the U.S. market.

“ADHR joins Idea Italia as the second company from Italy to launch their U.S. expansion here in Delaware at our Emerging Enterprise Center,” said Bob Chadwick, Vice President of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce and Director of New Castle County Economic Development Council.

ADHR Group SRL provides a number of HR related services including job placement, training, marketing, and temp/full time searches. The company currently has 28 offices in Italy and is now looking to launch an innovative new piece of software/website that will utilize an algorithm to automatically match potential employees with employers.

The site will also have a number of modules for resume preparation, interview training, virtual interviews, and even an element of Artificial Intelligence to analyze facial expressions and physical characteristics during the virtual interview process.

Greater Philadelphia Economy Continues to Grow at Slower Rate

The Greater Philadelphia regional economy will continue to grow but at a slower rate in the months to come according to new quarterly economic indicators released by Select Greater Philadelphia in collaboration with IHS Global Insight.

The Greater Philadelphia Leading Index (GPLI) is designed to signal the strength and direction of economic activity in the Greater Philadelphia region with an approximate lead time of six months. The June 2012 value of the GPLI was 93.3, virtually the same as in May, but down from 93.5 in March. Prior to then, the GPLI had been rising gradually since October 2011. The recent downward trend in the 12-month moving average that began in the spring of 2012 is further confirmation that the region’s economic growth rate will be slightly lower during the rest of the year.

“While the region’s economy continues to expand, the rate of growth is slowing and we expect this trend to continue for the rest of the year,” said Phil Hopkins, Vice President of Research at Select Greater Philadelphia. ”This gradual recovery means that the region’s total non-farm employment will not return to its pre-recession peak until the second half of 2014 at the earliest.”

The Philadelphia Stock Index — one of the four variables that comprise the Greater Philadelphia Leading Index — fell during the last three months, while the US Leading index remained level. The index’s other two variables — Employment Services and Vessel Trips — rose slightly.

According to IHS Global Insight, the modest drop in the monthly values of the GPLI in May and June was due to the decline in Philadelphia Stock Index and the leveling off of the US Leading Index. Given the uncertainty facing the US economy, and the below-average employment growth rate in the region since the start of the year, it would be premature to suggest that the slight increase in the GPLI between May and June is the start of an upward trend.

“It has been three years since the Great Recession was declared over by the National Bureau of Economic Research in June 2009,” said James Diffley, senior director of the IHS Global Insight U.S. Regional Services Group. “Since then US economy has continued to expand as real GDP has risen for 12 consecutive quarters through 2012q2. However, its annual growth rate peaked at 4.1% in 2011q4, and then slowed to 2% in 2012q1 and only 1.5% during 2012q2. This deceleration in growth is being felt in the Greater Philadelphia Region, resulting in the downward trend in the Greater Philadelphia Leading Index.”

US employment growth has been moderate with 1.77 million non-farm jobs (seasonally adjusted) added between June 2011 and June 2012, for a year-over-year (y/y) increase of 1.4%.

The drop in the US unemployment rate has stalled, fluctuating between 8.2% and 8.3% since January as employment growth has not been high enough to bring it down any further. The historically high number of persons who are underemployed, or have been unemployed for an extended period, remains a concern. There are some positive signs for the US economy. Housing prices appear to have stopped falling, with the number of housing starts and home sales beginning to rise above their historical lows of the last several years. The fall in gasoline prices has added to consumer incomes as they have declined from their springtime levels of close to $4 per gallon.

The seasonally adjusted (SA) unemployment rate in the two MSAs in May 2012 was 8.2%, same as for the US. The difference between the GPR’s and the US unemployment rates has disappeared over the last two years. Prior to the start of the Great Recession the Region’s unemployment rate was consistently about 0.5 percentage points less than the US rate; it has been the same as the US figure since January 2012.

The Greater Philadelphia Coincident Index, which is designed to show the current direction of economic activity in the GPR, rose during the first four months of 2012 followed by declines in May and June. This is consistent with the Region’s private-sector y/y employment growth through June being a little over one-half of the US figure. The four sectors where the Region’s y/y percent changes in employment were the furthest below the US are: Construction; Manufacturing; Trade, Transportation and Utilities; and Professional & Business Services. By contrast, employment in the Leisure and Hospitality Services sector was up 3.4% y/y, significantly higher than for the US; this difference was likely to due to the opening of the expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center in the spring of 2011.

For a detailed quarterly report on Greater Philadelphia’s leading and coincident indices of economic activity, including the methodology, and to obtain current values and year- over-year changes for a large number of data elements that measure economic activity, visit http://www.selectgreaterphiladelphia.com/data/eco_indicators.cfm