Austin Scores Highest on Pandemic Recovery; Bay Area and Baltimore Lowest

The Bay Area Council and CBRE created an economic tracker to measure how well the nation's 25 largest metropolitan areas have recovered from the public health restrictions imposed on their regions at the onset of the pandemic.

3 minute read

March 5, 2023, 11:00 AM PST

By Irvin Dawid


Coronavirus and Urbanism

Eddie Hernandez Photos / Shutterstock

“San Francisco’s recovery from the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the worst in the country among major metropolitan areas, according to an economic recovery tracker launched Tuesday by the Bay Area Council business group,” reports Eli Walsh of the Bay City News Foundation on Feb. 28.

That would be the San Francisco metropolitan statistical area, not the city. From a related, pandemic post:

Metros, or Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), are census-defined regions that consist of a city with 50,000 or more inhabitants and its surrounding communities.

The San Francisco–Oakland–Berkeley metro consists of five counties: Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa.

“Among the 25 largest metro areas in the country by regional gross domestic product, San Francisco’s pandemic recovery ranked 24th on the Regional Economic Recovery Index, besting only Baltimore,” adds Walsh.

San Jose fared better, but is still in the back half of the ranking at 16th. The Austin, Dallas and Denver metro areas have had the greatest recovery to date, according to the Bay Area Council.

The initial report by the council's Economic Institute, prepared in partnership with the commercial real estate services company CBRE and its Tech Insights Center, is the first of a three-year, three-part series of interactive reports focused on the Bay Area's economic recovery.

"The index portion of the project is focused on the 5 county San Francisco MSA (plus 2 county San Jose MSA)," wrote Abby Raisz of the Bay Area Council in an email on March 2.  “The 'Bay Area Deep Dive' section includes charts that encompass the entire 9 county Bay Area.”

The region was the first in the nation to issue a "shelter in place order” on March 16, 2020, and appears almost last to recover from shutting down all but essential services in order to stem the transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“As the region recovers, it is clear that the pandemic has permanently changed how and where people work, how businesses think about their location decisions, and where households choose to live," notes the project summary of the report. “These effects appear to be most visible in expensive coastal regions, including the San Francisco Bay Area.”

Austin, Texas ranked first across the 25 regions in the study, scoring an average of 86 (out of 100) across the 15 metrics evaluated, according to the report's index methodology:

Within these metrics, it ranked first (100/100) on 6 metrics: job growth, “knowledge worker” growth, population growth, labor force growth, net absorption, and new housing units per capita. It also scored high (second only to Denver) on change in sales tax revenue – experiencing an increase of $33 million (or 13%) from 2019 to 2021.

These figures speak to the dramatic resilience and growth Austin, and Texas as a whole, experienced  during the pandemic, while coastal cities like San Francisco and New York continue to suffer losses.

Related post detailing the population loss in the Bay Area: State Estimates Show Third Year of Population Loss for California, February 5, 2023,

Hat tip to my local paper, the San Mateo Daily Journal.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023 in Bay City News Foundation

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

Ice fishing tents surrounded by fence in Safe Outdoor Space for unhoused people in parking lot in Denver, Colorado.

An Affordable Housing Model for Indigenous Americans

Indigenous people make up a disproportionately high percentage of the unhoused population, but many programs designed to assist them don’t reach those most in need.

5 hours ago - High Country News

An electric bicycle is shown with the legs of a human who is riding the e-bike.

Oregon Bill Would Ban E-Bikes for Riders Under 16

State lawmakers seek to change Oregon e-bike laws following the death of a 15-year old last summer.

6 hours ago - Oregon Capital Chronical

Aerial view of canal cut into beach in Charlestow, Rhode Island with boats parked in sand.

Northeastern Waterways More Polluted After Wet Year

Intense rains washed more runoff into local bodies of water, while warmer temperatures contributed to the growth of an invasive bloom.

7 hours ago - University of Rhode Island

Senior Planner

Heyer Gruel Associates

Regional Transportation Planner

Crater Planning District Commission

Senior Planner- Long range

Prince William County Planning Office

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.