Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

Thank you, Mr. President. I want to remind us in this Chamber that 87,000 Pennsylvanians lost their unemployment benefits the turn of the year and that 11,910 of them are Philadelphians. And the point of this is the Pew Charitable Trusts released their report this week on the shrinking middle class. Some interesting statistics as we enter our budget negotiations is that the middle class has declined from 59 percent of our population in 1970 to 42 percent in 2010 and that the, quote, "lower class" Philadelphians spiked, went up, from 30 percent of the population to 47 percent of the population. We're not talking about the poor or, as they call it, super poor. We're talking about lower-middle class, middle class shrinkage.

Pew defines the middle class in their audit of households as $41,258 annually to 123,000. Now, in my neighborhood that's a little large, but we'll take them at their statistical word.

But it has become apparent also that the cost of living in that shrinking has not gone down. Everything from utilities, food, housing, shelter, all of those things have gone up.

I want to recognize a couple of people in this Chamber. First of all, you, Mr. President, for your work in preserving that middle class, in making sure that municipal workers received consideration for a fair contract as it relates to District Council 47, and I pray that we are successful in moving that also into 33.

I want to recognize Councilman Henon for his work in trying to preserve the middle class manufacturing jobs that are here in the City of Philadelphia and recognize him for trying to preserve that middle class.

I want to recognize Councilman Oh for his work in recognizing Philadelphia as an international economic opportunity to the rest of the world, attracting businesses, reinforcing that middle class.

I want to make sure that that is known, that we are fighting every day in our different areas of expertise to make sure that happens and that we encourage and continue to encourage our Philadelphia delegation both in Harrisburg and in DC, Congressman Brady, Congressman Fattah, for their work in moving the reinstating of that unemployment compensation, because I don't know if after 11 weeks what any of us would do without a means of income in the City of Philadelphia. Many of us live paycheck to paycheck, and as Councilwoman Tasco points out, some of them rely on even payday loans, and we want to stop that.

We have to preserve this middle class. We have to fight for it in everything we do in the upcoming months in this budget process.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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