As a native New Yorker and someone who began their professional career in the big city it saddens me to see what has happened there over the last six months.
While the coronavirus has impacted the economy across the country, no place has been hit harder than New York City. Considered the financial capital of the world, a trip to the Big Apple these days finds it to be a ghost town with almost 6,000 businesses closed since the pandemic began in March. About 4,000 are expected to be permanently shut. Broadway is dark, tourism has plummeted, and many wealthy residents have decided to move out.
Already, the dwindling tax revenue has led to cutbacks in municipal services. Trash on sidewalks, unkept parks and an increase in crime has made it more difficult to persuade workers to return to their offices, as more than one hundred and fifty business executives told the mayor in a letter this month.
Unfortunately, things are expected to get worse in the near term as money from Government assistance runs out and the weather turns colder, possibly triggering a second wave of coronavirus cases. With so many people working from home small businesses that depend on that foot traffic will be in jeopardy. Currently only about fifteen percent of the estimated 1.2 million office workers have returned to the city.
The pandemic could permanently close as many as a third of New York’s 230,000 businesses, according to the Partnership for New York City, a local business group. Retailers and restaurants have been hit particularly hard.
New York rebounded from bankruptcy in the mid 1970’s and from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but COVID-19 may turn out to be the city’s toughest challenge yet.