Chart of the week: Three percent of businesses migrated out of D.C. in response to the pandemic

February 11, 2022
  • Yesim Sayin
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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.

Author

Yesim Sayin

Executive Director
D.C. Policy Center

Yesim Sayin is the founding Executive Director of the D.C. Policy Center.

With over twenty years of public policy experience in the District of Columbia, Dr. Sayin is recognized by policymakers, advocates and the media as a source of reliable, balanced analyses on the District’s economy and demography.  Yesim’s research interests include economic and fiscal policy, urban economic development, housing, and education. She is especially focused on how COVID-19 pandemic is changing regional and interregional economic interdependencies and what this means for urban policy. Her work is frequently covered in the media, including the Washington Post, the Washington Business Journal, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, WAMU, and the Washington City Paper, among others.

Before joining the D.C. Policy Center, Dr. Sayin worked at the District of Columbia Office of the Chief Financial Officer leading the team that scored the fiscal impact of all legislation the District considered. She frequently testified on high profile legislation and worked closely with the executive and Council staff to ensure that policymakers fully understand the fiscal implications of their proposed legislation. Yesim also has worked in the private sector, and consulted with international organization on a large portfolio of public finance topics.

Yesim holds a Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Bogazici University, located in Istanbul, Turkey.