Retailers Say NYC Is the “Worst Place to do Business in America”
The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book “Dumb and Dumber: How Cuomo and De Blasio Ruined New York.”
The default economic illiteracy of liberal leaders remained intact during the pandemic this year. The states that saw both the most coronavirus deaths per capita and highest increases in unemployment were blue states, and blue states continue to lead the nation in unemployment.
The extent to which the economic damage during the pandemic is weighted between the virus itself and the lockdowns is still debated, but there’s no doubt that stringent lockdowns greatly exacerbate the damage initially, and then prolong it because of how slow leaders have been in lifting them. And regardless, New York saw the worst of both worlds, having imposed a strict lockdown (far too late to have the needed effect, it seems) and being among the states hardest hit by the virus.
The nonprofit Partnership for New York City, which consists of a select group of nearly three hundred CEOs from NYC’s top firms, released a depressing “post pandemic” report estimating the permanent damage the lockdowns will have for businesses. The report, aided by twelve global consulting firms, found that a third of the city’s 230,000 small businesses may never reopen.
The report found that before the pandemic, most businesses had less than three months’ worth of cash reserves, which was roughly how long the lockdowns had been going on at the time of the release of the report (July 2020). “That means that funds to restart, pay back rent and buy inventory are exhausted, leaving tens of thousands of entrepreneurs at risk, particularly business owners of color,” according to the report.
It would later be learned in August that 83 percent of NYC’s restaurants were unable to pay their July rent. Some made partial payments, but 37 percent paid no rent at all.
Among the other bleak findings from the Partnership for New York City report were that:
- By June, NYC “experienced more infection, death and economic destruction than anywhere in the world.”
- Up to eighty thousand of the city’s small businesses “may never reopen.”
- The unemployment rate was 18.3 percent and one million are struggling.
- Only 40 percent of Manhattan office workers will return by year’s end and 25 percent may never come back. This is likely to have ripple effects, damaging those who own office space.
- The city’s economy is projected to shrink 7 percent, which will further reduce the tax base. Outward migration will compound this problem.
Everyone had thought that the relatively wealthy four hundred thousand–plus who left the city at the beginning of the pandemic would simply return in a month or two. For the large part that has yet to materialize, as evidenced by apartment vacancies reaching record highs alongside falling rents. Many have been able to work from home, and others can see the visible decay that has materialized at an alarming rate in the city they had fled.
As Fox Business’s Charles Gasparino puts it: “Wall Street could soon become a home office and a computer.” Real estate developer and Democrat donor Don Peebles, whose firm is based in lower Manhattan, told CNBC: “I think it’s going to take New York about a decade or so to dig out of this. Maybe longer. But it’s not going to be soon.”
Even by the end of August, when the rest of the state had already brought indoor dining back at half capacity for two and a half months, de Blasio didn’t have a care in the world for the city’s restaurants. “Indoor dining, that’s not a plan right now,” he told radio host Brian Lehrer. “There’s not a context for indoor dining. We’re never saying it’s impossible. But we do not, based on what we’re seeing around the world, we do not have a plan for reopening indoor dining in the near term.”
Days later de Blasio was asked an obvious question: Why would indoor dining be banned when schools would be allowing children to eat inside at lunch tables when the school year begins? “I don’t think there’s a similarity at all,” de Blasio replied. Not long after in September he’d release a plan to re-open indoor dining (at 25% capacity), proving once again how completely arbitrary it was that it was banned entirely in the first place.
As the New York Post declares in an article documenting the impossible landscape that retailers and restaurants are forced to face in NYC, the city is now the nation’s “worst place to do business.”