Inspired by District, Measured’s great work on population dynamics, we used United States Postal Service data to examine how business move patterns have changed in the post-pandemic era.
These data show that business establishments were quick to respond to the pandemic: The net domestic outmigration of business establishments (address changes out of D.C. minus address changes into D.C.) within the first three months of the pandemic (March, April, and May of 2020) was 1,025; or about 3 percent of all private sector business establishments in D.C. at that time.
We don’t know more about the characteristics of these establishments, or how many people they hired, but overall, net domestic outmigration in 2020 was six times greater than what we saw in a typical year before the pandemic.
There were shifts within D.C., too, with strong gains in establishments in more residential parts of the city and an exodus of businesses from the downtown area. Some parts of the downtown recovered in 2021, with enough establishments to make up for the previous year’s loss, but the net exit from the city was still twice the rate of pre-pandemic years.