Over one-fifth of Americans are directly employed in retail and hospitality, including stores, bars and restaurants, tourism, and entertainment. That’s more than 32 million people working in an industry that’s currently being hammered by widespread closures and layoffs due to COVID-19. The reverberations are widespread, from kitchen tables, to local economies to municipal budgets, as rents, wage, and sales taxes go uncollected.
On Thursday, April 9, the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings hosted a webinar examining COVID-19’s impacts on the retail and hospitality industries, and highlight creative interventions cities and states are deploying to help small businesses and workers, including unemployment insurance, sick leave policies, and grant and loan assistance programs. Brookings scholars Tracy Loh and Annelies Goger were joined by the owner of a local fast casual restaurant who, in the face of closures, has leveraged his bulk purchasing power into a bodega delivery service.