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Downtown Portland ranks at bottom among US cities in pandemic recovery

UC Berkeley researchers studied GPS data from cellphones from over 60 cities, and Portland came in at the bottom.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Downtown Portland is recovering slower than other cities, researchers from University of California Berkeley found after studying GPS data from cell phones.

The data was taken from 2019 and studied all the way up until this year. Out of 62 cities, Portland came in at No. 60. Researchers say downtown Portland only has 41% of the activity it did in 2019. 

UC Berkeley professor Karen Chapple said part of the reason for the slow recovery is more people are working from home.

"Lawyers working by themselves or accountants or people working in offices with just three or four people, they have really chosen to work from home, perhaps permanently, and that is really hurting the economies," Chapple said.

Cities like San Diego and New York have recovered a lot better, according to Chapple. Researchers looked at foot traffic going into places like bars, restaurants and gyms.

RELATED: Decline in foot traffic prompts Old Town comic book store to relocate to Lloyd Center

"There's a number of cities that have not even recovered half as much activity as they did three years ago," Chapple said. 

Kura Quinlan works downtown and said she's noticed the slow recovery. 

"It's really boarded up still and there's a lot of things that need to be fixed," Quinlan said. "The small businesses have left and that drove away tourist business."

Cleveland and San Francisco also came in at the bottom of the list at No. 61 and 62, respectively. 

Chapple said some things struggling cities could do is expand their arts and entertainment districts and creating a more residential downtown. If people are interested in looking at the study they can go here.

RELATED: Two Portland Starbucks stores closing over safety concerns

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