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Analysis Shows Flagstaff Economy Vulnerable To Possible COVID-19 Recession


Economic analysts say the tourism and hospitality industries will likely be hit especially hard from the fallout of COVID-19. A recent report from the Brookings Institution lists Flagstaff as the 10th most vulnerable area in the country. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

According to the study, 27.5% of Flagstaff’s jobs are in industries at risk to a possible recession triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak. More than 17,000 employees in the city, work in restaurants, hotels and other businesses connected to tourism, and they’re already feeling the effects of the pandemic.

Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans last week ordered all bars, coffee shops and restaurants to temporarily close to avoid coronavirus spread, and some have already been forced to lay off workers. The city doesn’t track job numbers, so it’s unclear how many have been lost or put on hold.

According to the Brookings Institution report, more than 24 million Americans work in industries at risk from a possible COVID-19-created recession. The study predicts mining, oil and gas, transportation, and employment services could also be heavily impacted.

Metro areas that could fare better from possible economic fallout are tech-oriented university cities like Provo, Utah, and San Jose, California.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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