The mass exodus of New York City residents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been linked to $34 billion in lost income, according to a new study conducted by the location analytics company Unacast.
The team was able to analyze anonymized cellphone location data, and that information pointed to roughly 3.57 million people leaving the United States’ largest city this year between Jan. 1 and Dec. 7.
About 3.5 million individuals who were earning lower average incomes moved into the city during that same period, the study showed, resulting in a net loss of seventy thousand residents over the ten-month-long pandemic.
Those who fled the city took with them about $298 billion of income, while the newcomers brought in about $264 billion—leaving a sizeable $34 billion gap.
“The exodus isn’t as big as people have been talking about,” Thomas Walle, chief executive and co-founder of Unacast, told Reuters.
“Maybe the greater impact is how the population is changing and how the demographics are changing.”
The loss of income will have “clear implications,” the report noted.
“As a result, stores . . . that are more accustomed to catering to higher-end clientele will likely lose market share to more affordable brands. Where Chanel and Ruth’s Chris once reigned, H&M and an Outback may find a new generation of customers.”
The data further revealed that compared to last year, there was 33 percent less retail foot traffic and 34 percent fewer people in restaurants. Apartment vacancies in Manhattan have also hit a fourteen-year high, with more than sixteen thousand spaces now sitting empty.
It appears that the city won’t be seeing a quick turnaround anytime soon. New York’s nonessential businesses may be forced to close again in January if the state doesn’t stem the escalating number of new coronavirus cases.
“Of course, a shutdown in January is possible,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news conference on Wednesday. “But there’s a big but.”
Over the past week, the state is averaging 10,294 new infections every day—a 7 percent jump compared to the week prior, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
New York is now concerned about what the governor is calling “living room spread,” as contact tracing data has shown that nearly 74 percent of new cases are linked to households and social gatherings.
“It is up to us. What will happen in three weeks? What will happen in four weeks? You tell me what you’re going to do over the next three weeks or four weeks, and I’ll tell you what’s going to happen,” said Cuomo, who urged New Yorkers to take “personal responsibility” to slow the spread of the virus.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.