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Millions Left America’s Major Cities Since Lockdowns, New Study Shows

Late last year, Townhall reported that the latest Silicon Valley Poll found that 56 percent of residents said they are likely to leave the region “in the next few years.” And, 64 percent of respondents said the area is “on the wrong track.” These figures were shared across gender, ages, and demographics. Two reasons why were the rising housing costs and the homelessness problem. Minority groups were the “most alarmed” about housing costs. 

In addition, a separate survey published by the San Francisco Chronicle found that one-third of residents said they'd likely to leave the left-wing city within the next three years. The majority, 65 percent, said that “life in the city is worse than when they first moved here.” On top of that, less than one quarter of respondents said they expected life to improve in the region the next two years. Thirty-five percent said it would worsen.

Predictably, homelessness was listed as the top issue impacting the city. Public safety and housing affordability came second. 

Two million people left America’s major cities from 2020 to 2022, according to a new report from analysts at the bipartisan Economic Innovation Group. The majority, 1.2 million, departed these cities between July 2020 and July 2021, after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the report, it noted that “the pandemic is having profound and lasting impacts on economic geography.”

“The offices are empty because people don’t need to come to the office,” said Adam Ozimek, a chief economist at the Economic Innovation Group. “And if you don’t need to come into the office, you don’t need to live in that labor market.” 

This week, The Hill reported that in 10 of the largest U.S. cities, half of all offices are empty due to remote work that started during the pandemic: 

In 2022, COVID-19 deaths eased, and immigration resumed. Together, those positives more or less canceled out the losses from urban flight. 

Yet, most of America’s big cities remain less populous now than they were at the pandemic’s start.  

Los Angeles County lost nearly 300,000 people, or 3 percent of its population, between April 2020 and July 2022, Census data show. 

Cook County, encompassing Chicago and suburbs, lost 166,000 people in that span, about 3 percent of its population. 

Kings County, N.Y., better known as Brooklyn, lost nearly 150,000 residents, 5 percent of its citizenry. 

New York County, or Manhattan, lost nearly 100,000 residents, a 6-percent hit. 

In addition to the option to work remotely, crime has risen in many of America’s largest cities. New York City, specifically, saw an uptick in robberies, rape, and other forms of violent crime, especially on the city’s subway system, which Townhall reported. And, crime in big cities has trickled out into smaller areas, which Townhall also covered.

“Policy has a role to play here,” Ozimek said. “The last thing you want is politicians and local policymakers who just assume everything is going to work out. 

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