by René Kladzyk, El Paso Matters
Daniella Perez, a 22-year-old waitress and UTEP student, lost her job when restaurants closed in mid-March as COVID-19 began spreading through El Paso. “Honestly I’m still kind of in shock. I can’t believe this whole thing. I have been trying to look for more income, but I’m scared because I live with my Mom,” Perez said. This first wave of COVID-19 job losses led more than 50,000 people in the El Paso area to file unemployment claims between March 1 and May 1, according to data from Workforce Solutions Borderplex.
Downtown revitalization has brought many changes to the central part of the city. The construction has brought street closures, orange barrels and headaches for businesses, visitors and motorists. But the renovations and demolitions haven’t kept one local business from flourishing. “We definitely increased in business,” said Café Central Assistant Manager Juan Franco. “ The last two years, business has gone up 45 percent.”
The restaurant is open six days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. It’s busiest days are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and their busiest time of day is after 5 in the afternoon.
CIUDAD JUÁREZ, México — Roaming the city is not what it used to be; the once busy and bustling city is losing money and residents very quickly. Recent provisional data from the INEGI show that Juárez has lost about 24% of its population. A city of 1.3 million has shrunk to one million, and 60 thousand families have migrated to other areas of Mexico or to the U.S.
As a result of this people flight, statistics from the Colegio de la Frontera Norte reveal that 116,000 houses have been abandoned, leaving 24% of the city’s homes empty. Yet those statistics may be erroneous because a study form the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez reveals that the sum might be closer to 100 thousand families leaving the city, leaving half a million (or about 40%) less inhabitants. These latter numbers do coincide; an article posted by the Diario de Juarez states that since 2006 nearly 110 thousand Mexican citizens asked for political asylum in the U.S., but only 183 obtained the asylum, less that 2% of the total.
EL PASO — The city of El Paso is home to hundreds of thousands of people, and its economy is smaller compared to other cities in Texas such as San Antonio and Dallas. University of Texas at El Paso Economics professor Tom Fullerton believes that El Paso has a much smaller economy compared to Houston or Dallas because, “In part that’s simply because population base here is a lot smaller,” he said. Fullerton believes that a larger economy is not an impossible goal for El Paso. “El Paso has very good economic potential. It has a young demographic here it has a labor force that’s ready, willing and available for working. What needs to be done however is to increase investment in infrastructure and convince young people to stay in school.”
As part of that mission to spark the economy of El Paso, Jorge Vazquez, is trying to bring in more entertainment to the city.