Apr 30, 2020 - Economy & Business

Coronavirus may prompt migration out of American cities

A man crosses an empty street amid the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco. Photo: Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images.

Nearly one-third of Americans are considering moving to a less densely populated area because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a Harris Poll survey released Thursday.

The big picture: "Space now means something more than square feet," Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema said. "Already beset by high rents and clogged streets, the virus is now forcing urbanites to consider social distancing as a lifestyle."

By the numbers: 39% of urban dwellers said the COVID-19 crisis has prompted them to consider leaving for a less crowded place, according to the survey of 2,050 U.S. adults from April 25-27,

  • 18- to-34-year-olds were more likely than other age groups to say they're considering a move.
  • Urban residents (43%) were more likely than suburban (26%) and rural (21%) residents to report having recently browsed real estate websites for homes or apartments to rent or buy, per the survey.
  • Yes, but: Alarm over coronavirus is high in rural areas, too — 77% of rural residents reported they are very or somewhat concerned about themselves or a loved one being exposed to COVID-19.

Between the lines: It's not yet clear how the pandemic will reshape cities in the long run, but many experts say it will accelerate trends that were already underway before the coronavirus outbreak.

  • City growth slows: After people flocked to big cities in the early 2010s, major metro areas with populations of more than 1 million have seen growth slowdowns and even losses over the past four years, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Brookings Institution's William Frey.
  • Remote work normalized: Remote work is likely to become a more permanent reality, allowing staff more flexibility to live further away from their company's headquarters — hence, further away from major cities.
  • Spreading out: Suburbs had already become more attractive to millennials before the pandemic. Demographers and realtors tell HousingWire that the crisis is a "tipping point" for people already wanting more space or a different quality of life outside urban cores.

The other side: People tend to stay put in an economic downturn, so a recession could discourage people from picking up and moving, even if they've thought about it.

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

The European Union is considering an $826 billion coronavirus rescue package to fund recovery efforts for all member states, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.

By the numbers: More than 5.6 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 2.3 million have recovered from the virus. Over 355,500 people have died globally. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 15.1 million tests).

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 100,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins — a milestone that puts the death toll far beyond some of the most tragic events in U.S. history.

By the numbers: Over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Nearly 354,000 Americans have recovered and over 15.1 million tests have been conducted. California became the fourth state with at least 100,000 reported cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, along with Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 5,682,389 — Total deaths: 354,944 — Total recoveries — 2,337,385Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 1,697,459 — Total deaths: 100,276 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine — Nearly half of Americans say someone in their household has delayed medical care.
  4. States: California hospitals strained by patients in MexicoTexas Supreme Court blocks mail-in expansion to state voters.
  5. Business: MGM plans to reopen major Las Vegas resorts in June — African American business owners have seen less relief from PPP, Goldman Sachs says.
  6. Tech: AI will help in the pandemic — but it might not be in time for this one.
  7. 1 🎶 thing: Local music venues get rocked by coronavirus.
  8. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  9. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy