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“COVID-19 is the motherlode of economic shocks,” said Ned Murray, associate director of FIU’s Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center. “We are going to become the poster child for this crisis right away because of our high housing costs and reliance on industries dominated by low-wage employment.”

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More than half Miami’s economic output comes from the 82,000 companies with fewer than 500 employees, according to a Florida International University study. More than half of those — almost 55,000 — have fewer than 5 employees. Unlike large corporations, small firms are less likely to have access to lines of credit, and are also less able to exert leverage over a landlord to relax lease terms.

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Did you know that some of the services impacted by the Census include public safety, transportation, health, education and economic development? At a local level, FIU students and researchers rely on census figures every day to better understand population characteristics, business information and assess needs and service gaps.

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“Just as we saw with the 2008 Recession, job losses will cut across most industry sectors and occupations,” said Ned Murray, associate director of FIU’s Perez Metropolitan Center, in an email. “While many occupations in these sectors are low wage, these are big industry sectors employing many professionals as well.”

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The Jorge Perez FIU Metropolitan Center has embarked on a comprehensive applied research initiative on the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on South Florida. Our preliminary research has found there’s no widely accepted, consistent methodology for estimating the economic impacts of an infectious disease event the magnitude of COVID-19, and even less known about the short- and long-term impacts on local and regional economies and social environments.

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“We are an economy of small businesses,” Ned Murray, Associate Director of FIU Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center, said. “They’re going to be hurt because they don’t have the credit to survive this long term. They need demand, but in the “Covid economy,” that’s not a moving part right now.”

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The Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center (PMC) remains open. We are operating remotely, but our team remains in close contact with each other and with the communities we serve. The nature of our work lends itself to telecommuting, which we’ve practiced for the last five years. Ned Murray, Maria Ilcheva, Caroline Bernard-Stokes, and I are here to assist you with the community development and applied social science needs you and your organizations are meeting during this new normal.

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“This is an evolving story line that is getting more concerning by the day,” said Ned Murray, associate director of Florida International University’s Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center. “Passenger demand is being impacted by both fear and government warnings to stay away from cruises altogether.

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“Every data source we use is legitimate. While we consider ourselves data experts, we rely on the U.S. Census. That’s not unheard of to have two districts with the same median household income; that’s U.S. Census data at the block group level, not FIU,” Murray said.

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Affordable housing continues to concern Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami. Both are working with the Florida International University Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center to consider options as housing prices increase beyond the reach of most locals.

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