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New York Times

In New York City, the sparkle of hope and the signs of revival

New York — For the New York City economy, the last 12 months have been one long and cruel winter. The pandemic was forced to close most of the city’s businesses, wiped out hundreds of thousands of jobs and alienated tens of millions of tourists. In many respects, the country’s largest cities suffer the most losses and face one of the longest and steepest uphills. The show will not return to Broadway stage until Labor Day is over. Also, many workers, when they come back, do not commute to the office and start buying lunch at the corner deli. However, for the first time since the city was closed in late March last year, the supply of COVID-19 vaccine has increased, and city halls, schools, transportation systems, restaurants and theaters. Sign up for the morning newsletter from The New York Times. Up-and-coming optimist shoots pop up almost every day. Overlooking Central Park, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel has recalled workers to reopen this week. Union Square Cafe, a popular Manhattan restaurant that has been closed for several months, is serving food again. When the New York Yankees kicked off the season in the Bronx on Thursday, fans were back on the stand, but limited to one-fifth of their seats. The city’s outlook has improved as a result of the latest stimulus package, according to financial analysts. This includes approximately $ 6 billion in direct assistance to the city government, $ 6.5 billion to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and $ 4 billion to the city’s public schools. Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, said: “It will provide a big pop in more or less closed places.” Federal aid comes from real estate and sales taxes, which MTAs, which operate subways, buses, and two commuter trains, rely heavily on. Helps solve some of the city’s biggest short-term problems, such as significant reductions in sales and fares. Still, the road to a full recovery will be long and steep, says business leaders and analysts. The entire industry, including arts, hotels and restaurants, has declined and thousands of businesses have been completely shut down. The economy’s pillar, tourism, is predicted to be years ahead of the rebound. Also, many companies have at least some remote work as a permanent feature, questioning the future of Manhattan without an army of office workers. “There is still a way to go in this city,” said Anna Champeny, director of urban research on the Citizen’s Budget Committee. “Commuters need to be returned to downtown Midtown and the business district. Restaurants and theaters need to be reopened.” The infusion of federal aid provided several reasons for hope. The MTA has now promised to restore 24-hour subway services that had been suspended during the pandemic from threats to significantly reduce services and dismiss workers. Many restaurants that struggled to survive through months of bans on indoor dining can try to recoup the losses and costs of adapting to pandemic restrictions. Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader in New York, said the stimulus bill known as the US rescue program would provide nearly $ 100 billion in aid to New York State and its inhabitants. Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to use direct assistance when presenting a budget in April, spokeswoman Laura Fire said. With this assistance, the city “will eventually be able to overcome huge income losses, serve the people, maintain the workforce and revive the city,” the mayor said. Direct local aid “can put the city on a solid financial base,” Champeny said, but the city will continue to face large budget deficits in the future. “It’s definitely an incredibly generous package to start rebuilding.” Rebuilding faces formidable challenges. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the New York metropolitan area lost more than one million jobs in 2020, nearly double the loss in the Los Angeles area and three times the loss in the Chicago area. (The city’s official unemployment rate rose to 12.9% in February, more than doubled to 6.2% in February and 6% in March.) The city’s economic ladder. According to economists, low-paying jobs that can’t be done from home make up the majority of the losses, and many may not come back for years. New York was particularly vulnerable to the economic blow of a pandemic, as it relies heavily on tourists and business travelers to fill the beds and seats of hotels in restaurants, theaters and stadiums. According to the New York Tourism Board, the number of foreign tourists to New York is not expected to reach 2019 levels by 2025. New York office towers are still almost empty, and the outflow of office workers from Manhattan (many of which are not expected to return until later in the year) has crippled merchants and has much value for New York’s commercial real estate. This has led to a significant decrease in sales and property tax revenues. The city’s Independent Budget Office predicted that the city’s recovery would remain “vulnerable and tentative for months more.” The surge in jobs this year and next will replace the city’s lost jobs of about 400,000, but the Office of Management has said that by the end of 2024, New York will still have as many jobs as it did before the pandemic began. He said he didn’t have it. Vijay Dandapani, CEO of the New York City Hotel Association, said more than 200 of the 700 hotels in the city remained closed and thousands of workers were still unemployed. “My industry fell off a cliff on March 22, last year,” he said. During the pandemic, many hotel operators were unaided by the federal government and nearly half were in default on their mortgages, according to Danda Pani. He added that more than 40 hotels are lagging behind in paying property taxes to the city, which could lead to an inescapable “downward spiral.” But even the poor hotel business is showing signs of recovery. Mandarin Oriental has rehired more than 100 members of the hotel trade union to reopen on Thursday, said hotel manager Susanne Hache. Mandarin offers a discounted rate starting at $ 716 per night, which is 20% lower than the pre-pandemic price. Other hotels are expected to join the trend as the nearby Park Hyatt reopens on Thursday and tourists are slowly returning. According to industry research firm STR, hotel occupancy rates for the week ended March 20 were 50.8%, the highest in over a year. When fans return to the US Open tennis tournament stands in Queens, tourists may begin to recover slightly by the end of summer. And if the representative returns to Manhattan in September for the UN General Assembly, the hotel could fill more rooms. NYC & Co, the city’s tourism promotion agency. Predicts that visitor numbers will increase from about 23 million in 2020 to 38 million this year, but still down about 40% from record highs in 2019. The city’s volatile situation, EJ McMahon, founder of the Empire Center, a conservative research group, said he was wary of the extraordinary amount of federal aid flowing into the area. He said the impact of the pandemic on New York’s economy would be much deeper and lasting than the impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks 20 years ago. “There will be hangovers and serious hangovers in the future.” Still, McMahon questioned, “What can the government actually do to recreate the economy?” He said that much of the lost work, such as cleaning hotel rooms and serving food, did not require much skill or extensive training. “There are lots of problems and potential abuses of money here.” But James A. Parrot, an economist at New York City’s Center for Problems in New York, said the city would retrain workers who had lost their jobs. Insisted that some of the federal aid should be used. “Ten tens of thousands of jobs have disappeared forever, and the city needs to do more to protect the companies that are trying to do their best,” Parrot said. “The city has never faced a challenge of this scale.” The restaurant business is one of the key parts of New York’s private sector economy that benefits directly from the stimulus bill. The bill included more than $ 28 billion for restaurants nationwide, one of the companies that was hit hardest by the economic impact of the pandemic. Andrew Lizzie, secretary-general of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, an industry group, said a significant portion of that aid was likely to go to restaurants in New York. A recent study in partnership with the influential business group New York City estimates that 5,000 restaurants in the city were completely closed during the pandemic. “This will save countless restaurants and jobs,” Rigie said. “It’s scary that the restaurant had to wait a year for this funding, but it’s better than being late.” It may take some time, but “the city will make a big comeback. “Zandy said. “It will growl and come back.” This article was originally published in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company