By Michael D’Onofrio
PHILADELPHIA — Chronic unemployment for Philadelphians is a marker for a higher risk of an early death, according to a new city report.
The link was more pronounced in men than women, according to the report by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The report found that the mortality rate increased alongside chronic unemployment regardless of race and ethnicity.
The findings were “pretty concerning,” Dr. Ruth Abaya, the city health department’s injury prevention program manager, said during the Kenney administration’s biweekly update on gun violence on Wednesday.
Unemployment spiked during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly for Black, Hispanic and Latinx workers in Philadelphia.
Black and brown workers are lagging behind their white counterparts as the city recovers and opens back up, experiencing higher levels of unemployment and reliance on unemployment assistance, according to the report.
The city’s analysis also found overlapping public health crises.
ZIP codes experiencing higher levels of gun violence were the same as those with high chronic unemployment, which were the predominantly Black, Hispanic and Latinx neighborhoods of Southwest, West and North Philadelphia.
“Ultimately, there is a strong geographic relationship between where we see high numbers of shooting victims and where we see chronic unemployment for men and boys in Philadelphia,” Abaya said.
Black Philadelphians are disproportionately affected by gun violence, accounting for the overwhelming majority of homicide and shooting victims.
Read the full text of the report:
ZIP codes with chronic male unemployment rates of 21% to 30% had a mortality rate 28% higher than those living in areas with a chronic male unemployment rate of up to 10%, on average, according to the city report.
On average, areas with chronic female unemployment rates ranging between 31% and 40% had mortality rates 8% higher than those with female unemployment rates between 11% and 20%, according to the city report.
The city’s analysis was based on Philadelphians ages 16 to 64 who experienced unemployment for 12 months. The mortality rate was based on the age-adjusted number of people who died per 100,000 population in 2017.
Michael D’Onofrio is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.