How the pandemic changed the life of big American cities

  • Sep 19,2020

After all the threats that happened in human history, the cities have always been resilient. The pandemics in the past had never “destroyed cities”. This is because the cities are very important, like New York for example. The central part of it generates more than the Australian or Spanish economic output.

San Francisco is another example that produces nearly one five of the patents registered in the US in 2015. With the Covid-19  death toll rising, the density of the cities decreases, but the economists are optimistically expecting that when there is a vaccine or other successful the decision to fight with the virus, the cities are going to recover and bounce back. Unfortunately, this pandemic and the recovery after it seems to be different.  The Covid-19 lockdown affected a lot the most successful cities in the U.S. The closed bars, museums, theaters, or the imperative social distancing took away the dynamical characteristic of the American city. According to Mr. Glaeser, the cities are in more danger than they were in the 19th century. 

The leader of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is going to reconfigure his company, so 50% of the employees would be able to work from home. There are facts showing that 40% of the jobs can be done from home, so if the home office model takes part in, the geography of America’s technical industry can be reconfigured. Companies that are paying high real estate have the biggest interest reconfiguring to remote work.  Paradoxically, the biggest cities in the United States are becoming even more valuable. The nation’s economic output has shown an increasing share. The big cities are located in complex industries like the industry of IT, finance, and biotechnology. They are based in big cities because there they can find qualified labor.  Research has found that those qualified workers are being more productive when they are surrounded by others like them. 

 The remote work could affect the productivity of those types of employees. So, the employers will have to give each worker one more dollar per hour to keep them stimulated. There are some companies which productivity was tracked and over one- half of the large businesses and one-third of small ones haven't shown any loss. 
Most of those employees, who work remotely, will stay living in the big city because of the social contacts, but if the employer stops paying enough that the person can support his urban lifestyle, it is possible that this employee is going to leave the city and go living in the suburb.  One of the biggest questions is if the remote work will stay sustainable. According to Enrico Moretti, an expert in urban economics, workers can manage to work on a project remotely temporary but at one point they will need face-to-face interaction. 

After America reconfiguration, probably it would work more like the 1980s as a different world. Rents will be lower, there will be many cheap restaurants, people with low incomes will be able to live in the city. Covid-19 could be devastating for cities like the Rochesters or  Binghamton's, but for the city as New York, it could be only an opportunity for redemption.