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Disrupt the Shrug

Philadelphia remains the nation’s poorest large city, but according to the latest Census report, the deep poverty rate has actually gotten worse (rising from about 12 percent to 14 percent in 2017). In fact, Philadelphia was also the only large city with a decline in median household income from 2016 to 2017

And for many residents who struggle to make ends meet, we know that there’s a distinction between having a job and a decent-paying job. Though unemployment is down, experts suggest stagnant or lower wages and fewer hours contribute to Philadelphia’s pernicious poverty problem.

Poverty is not “just about one thing.” It’s not just about hunger, or lack of housing, or lack of education. Experts agree that these issues, the ones that trap families in the cycle of poverty for generations, do not exist in a vacuum.

These facts alone are troubling. But the reaction, a collective shrug, is equally disturbing. The "Philly Shrug" conveys that poverty is too big, too intractable to address. But poverty isn’t larger than us. In order to address it head-on, we must  disrupt the shrug.

United Way has put its stake in the ground to break the cycle of poverty in our region that traps families for generations. It's why we focus on a two-generation approach with an emphasis on three proven poverty-fighting strategies:

  • Early learning
  • Career pathways and pipelines
  • Economic empowerment

We are in the business of expanding opportunity for more people. But we need you to join the movement.


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