Opinions differ on whether the flight of urban residents from big metropolises as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic portends a decline among the nation’s cities.
Some researchers say this trend marks a long-term shift away from urban living. Others see the trend as a temporary change that will reverse over the next few years.
Population reduction puts in place a cycle of declining rents creating greater affordability, which could make them attainable for more people—and perhaps for more businesses if vacancy rates continue to rise. This could contribute to a comeback for large cities.
Second-tier cities are weathering the COVID storm better than the nation’s largest cities. In fact, in recent years, these smaller, non-gateway cities having been growing GDP faster than traditional gateway markets, like New York. After COVID, this trend is likely to accelerate.