When the pandemic first reared its head in the United States, New York was one of the places hardest hit. When panic was at an all-time high, the residents who could afford it decided to leave the densely populated buildings, sardine-packed subways and crowded streets for more rural and secluded areas. Not to mention, many were already considering leaving the city due to high taxes. Despite the declining positive coronavirus cases, this former hotspot hasn’t bounced back to its former population size. Is it the fear of a second wave or a newfound comfort in the more secluded lifestyle?
As the masses evacuated, they left their apartments empty and unattended. Manhattan’s vacancy rate hit a 14-year high in July with more than 67,000 units available across the city. The huge supply has driven down rental costs, causing a 10% drop compared to this time last year. The question is, will the lower prices help to fill all these vacancies? The unemployment rate in New York City hit over 20 percent, double the highest rate during the Great Recession. This leaves many struggling to pay their existing rent, and the option of springing for a new place, out of the question. Thanks to increased unemployment benefits, some were able to get by, but the benefits have not been extended. Eviction holds lift on Oct. 1.
The Local Economy
It isn’t just apartments. Office buildings aren’t nearly as full as they used to be. Following stay-at-home orders, many employers have decided to allow their employees to work at home for the foreseeable future. With so many able to make it work, will there be a reason to return to the office in full force again even after the virus has subsided? Many retailers are still closed or exercising reduced hours despite the effort to reopen. But Amazon announced that it would create 2,000 jobs for New Yorkers. They will work out of Lord & Taylor’s Fifth Avenue Building, which Amazon bought for $1 billion in March. So, some still have hope in the possibility of recovery.