Mayors fear long-lasting effects of COVID-19
U.S. mayors tend to be an optimistic bunch, but a poll released Thursday finds them unusually pessimistic about prospects for post-pandemic recovery.
Why it matters: In a survey of mayors of 130 U.S. cities with more than 75,000 residents, 80% expect racial health disparities to widen, and an alarming number predict that schools, transit systems and small businesses will continue to suffer through 2021 and beyond.
Details: The Menino Survey of Mayors, conducted annually by Boston University's Initiative on Cities (and named for former Boston mayor Thomas Menino), normally finds respondents upbeat about the future.
- This year, 45% of mayors foresee "dramatic" cuts to school budgets, while 38% expect big cuts to parks and recreation and 35% to mass transit.
- "Only around one-third expect small businesses that closed due to the COVID-19 economy will be quickly replaced by new ones," according to a news release.
- The mayors paint a bleak outlook for city centers, with 60% anticipating a permanent reduction in in-person retail shopping and the same percent saying that downtown office buildings will become "less desirable."
The bottom line: "A lot of mayors think that it’s going to be a long time before they see a return to normal," Graham Wilson, director of B.U.'s Initiative on Cities, tells Axios.
- "The mayors believe that they really need more fiscal help — that the CARES Act was not enough for cities, it was not enough for small businesses."