In March and April of 2020, the spread of COVID-19 brought strict lockdown mandates across the nation. New York City’s economy immediately began slowing and a large number of New Yorkers began fleeing to the suburbs, including suburbs in different states, in search of more relaxed restrictions and greener, more open spaces.
It is estimated that during 2020, New York City had a net decline of about 70,000 people. This population decrease, along with COVID-19 restrictions, caused many local businesses including small theaters, restaurants, and other establishments to permanently shut down or relocate, taking a huge toll on the Big Apple’s economy. Even some of the most renowned and wealthiest New York businesses such as the flagship Neiman Marcus department store and the Roosevelt and Blakely Hotels were forced to shut down for good. All in all, due at least in part to COVID-19 restrictions, New York lost an estimated $34 billion in revenue last year.
However, the pattern of people moving out of large metropolitan areas was not one distinct to New York, as cities across the West Coast, most notably Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, also saw massive net declines in population last year due to the pandemic. Clearly, urban residents have found adjusting to lockdown in a city tough.
Despite a massive exodus of people and widespread economic difficulty, many people still moved into New York City during the pandemic in search of work. The City lost a total 3.57 million residents, but it also gained 3.50 million residents last year (hence the 70,000 net decline). The people who moved into the city have a lower average income than those moving out, which means they won’t fully revitalize the New York City economy, but these are still people eager to join the workforce and fill jobs, the first step in bringing New York back to being the pre-COVID powerhouse it was.