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April 22, 2020  

When Will Your City Feel the Fiscal Impact of COVID-19?

April 22, 2020

Every city will feel the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. That’s a foregone conclusion. What will vary from community to community is when they will feel it, for how long, and how bad it will be. This is what Michael A. Pagano and Christiana K. McFarland are trying to anticipate in a new study for the Brookings Institution.

Pagana and McFarland—respectively, Dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Research Director for the National League of Cities—write that “the impact on cities’ bottom line will be driven not only by overall economic conditions but specifically the parts of the economy where revenue is generated: retail sales, income and wages, and real estate.” The towns and cities most likely to feel the impact quicker are those places most reliant on (a) “elastic” sources of revenue (such as sales and income tax), and (b) employers in “high-risk industries,” such as mining, oil and gas, transportation, travel, and more.

“The results,” they write, “indicate an uneven geography of fiscal impact, with many heartland cities likely to be hit harder and more quickly than others.”

In this week’s episode of Upzoned, hosts Abby Kinney and Chuck Marohn discuss the Brookings study and which communities are in the most trouble. They talk about the “suppressed volatility” of the last decade and how it is effecting cities now, why a city budget really is like a family budget, and how the crisis is reminding us why we need stable local governments.

Then in the Downzoned, Abby and Chuck are both turning their attention to yard work. And Chuck recommends a great audiobook about a daring World War II rescue mission.

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