Survey says US mayors see permanent changes even after Covid-19 vaccine
It will take years for US cities to fully recover from Covid-19 and during that time “a lot of small businesses won’t survive.”
Those are among the takeaways from a survey of mayors released Thursday from the Boston University Initiative on Cities. The survey, conducted from June through August, doesn’t take into account the latest challenge of distributing virus vaccines to local residents.
The 2020 Menino survey polled 130 mayors on how they are coping with the economic fallout from the pandemic and the disproportionate impact it brings to the most vulnerable residents and businesses.
Two-thirds of US mayors expect that Latinos, renters, immigrants, and Black residents would still be feeling economic harm next summer. Moreover, half of mayors think it will take until 2022 for the arts and culture sectors to return to normal.
“With the pandemic still spreading and the federal government still unable to come to an agreement on additional stimulus, we suspect mayors may actually be underestimating just how much their cities will change,”said Graham Wilson, Director of Boston University’s Initiative on Cities.
Permanent changes are expected even after a vaccine is available, with 90% of mayors seeing a continued shift toward working from home. This will lead to downtown office buildings becoming “less desirable,” according to 60% of the mayors. The same percentage expect a permanent reduction in in-person retail shopping.
The dire predictions do not bode well for small businesses. The majority of mayors expect those firms will be dramatically and permanently reshaped by Covid-19. Almost two-thirds doubt that new businesses will quickly emerge to replace those that went out of business during the pandemic.
To help combat tax-base losses from closed businesses, New York City has proposed new streams of revenue such as a Pied-a-Terre Tax and increasing fines. The city also suggested reducing spending with measures such as citywide pay freezes and changes to health care coverage. In Washington, DC, the transit authority proposed eliminating weekend metro train coverage and reducing staff.
Of the measures taken to help residents, mayors thought that the eviction moratoriums were the best policy: 93% of Democrat mayors supported these measures as did half of Republicans. Additional policies that were popular with mayors include universal paid sick leave, an increase in the minimum wage and commercial-eviction moratoriums.
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- US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also said the US is committed to consulting closely with the Afghan government, NATO allies and regional partners on a collective strategy to support a stable, sovereign, and secure future for the country.