Mass shootings have a measurable negative impact on the local economy, according to recent testimony before the House Financial Services Committee. After a city sees a mass shooting, it can experience up to a 2% increase in unemployment and 3% decrease in property values.
School shootings cause up to an 8% decline in property values within that district, with an average drop of 2.4%. Research shows it takes seven years for the price declines to start to fade away.
They also have long-term negative impacts on the students.
“Exposure to a school shooting led to chronic rates of absenteeism, and to an increased probability that students repeat grades over the next two years,” University of Georgia real estate professor Ruchi Singh told lawmakers. “The students also experience negative long term impacts. They were less likely to graduate from high school, less likely to enroll in college, and less likely to graduate from college. Moreover, they also had lower earnings and they were less likely to be employed at the age of 24 to 26.”
This all causes a snowball effect. Property value decreases erode the tax base, which leads to cuts for police, fire and sanitation departments. Shootings also create litigation costs, higher insurance premiums, layoffs and resignations.
The mayor of Buffalo, New York, is seeing this firsthand after the May 14 Tops grocery store shooting.
“In just the two weeks after the shooting. City departments, police, fire, sanitation, spent over $500,000 of unbudgeted dollars on overtime and other related services,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said. “That amount has continued to increase as city government continues to play a vital role in our community’s healing process and public safety needs.”
Mayor Brown said those costs continue to increase. According to the president of Tops grocery stores, a quarter of the employees from the Buffalo location chose not to return and had to be transferred.
“The Tops Friendly Markets store, once a hub of commerce within its community, was shut down for two months,” Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, said. “During those two months, people were displaced from jobs and their community faced food accessibility challenges.”
The committee’s ranking member, Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., said over the past two years the United States has seen an increased rate of all types of crime. In 2021, 68 of the top 70 police jurisdictions saw increases in violent crime including homicides, assault and rape. Rep. Emmer said that can lead to business owners having to decide whether to close and leave or stay and deal with the risks of remaining open.
“When a business closes its doors the entire community feels the effect. Jobs are lost, customers must find somewhere else to get the things they need. A vacant storefront invites more criminal activity. The value of homes goes down and the community begins to deteriorate,” Rep. Emmer said.