“I’ve stopped defining worst-case scenarios because they keep getting worse every week”: San Francisco’s controller.
By Wolf Richter | 31 May 2020
WOLF STREET — The lockdowns have created a fiscal nightmare for states and cities. But few major cities have gotten slammed as hard as San Francisco, whose single most important industry – tourism, including travel for leisure, conventions, and business – has essentially shut down and whose tech and unicorn startup sector has been laying off people in large numbers — a trend that started last year.
Uber, one of the largest employers in San Francisco, has been laying off people starting in 2019. Numerous startups have shut down or trimmed down before the lockdowns happened. Charles Schwab has been shedding staff in the City for a while and last November announced that it would move its headquarters to Texas. Macy’s announced at the beginning of February that it would shut down its tech center, the headquarters of macys.com, and lay off 1,080 people who’d been engaged for years making its ecommerce business a success. So the writing was on the wall.
Then in February, tourism plunged as travelers from China disappeared and as conventions were cancelled. The city is aggressive in extracting money from tourists at every twist and turn, including hotel taxes and rental car taxes. Since the lockdowns and travel restrictions came into effect in mid-March, tourism has practically died. The hotel industry alone employed about 25,000 people in the City. […]