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Economic Activity Is Plummeting in Blue Cities

We all know that central business districts (CBDs) of big cities have been particularly hard hit by the double-whammy of resurgent crime and a post-pandemic continuation of working from home, which has reduced both downtown employment and related commerce, such as restaurants.

Now the University of Toronto’s new “Downtown Recovery Rankings” makes clear just how much less foot traffic there is today than before the pandemic. If these data are correct, then these downtowns have lost 30 to 40% of their daily visitors and workers. This is devastating for stores, restaurants, street vendors, and other small businesses.

Without major policy changes to address rising crime, higher taxes, and stifling regulations, these cities are going to struggle to bring back much more of their pre-COVID traffic.

According to the Downtown Recovery Ratings, New York’s CBD has had a 34% reduction in foot traffic, Chicago 39%, San Francisco and Philadelphia 33%, Washington 32%, Boston 30%, Seattle 43% and Minneapolis 44%.

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