EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Border traffic going into Mexico has declined significantly since the pandemic began and border restrictions and stay-at-home orders were put into place in the region.
City of El Paso data shows southbound pedestrian traffic fell 71% in late May compared to the average crossing numbers in 2018. It's a roughly 70% drop from just March 1. The decline was even steeper at the end of March as border restrictions took effect and El Paso's "Stay Home, Work Safe" order took effect.
Also in late May, personal vehicle travel going into Mexico was down 33% compared to the average crossing numbers in 2018. Cargo truck travel was down 26%.
Though the data only reflects southbound travel, UTEP economics professor Tom Fullerton says similar trends can be seen in both directions across the border and the impacts are wide-ranging. Fullerton believes the retail sector, especially in the area south of Downtown El Paso, will be hit the hardest.
"There are going to be a lot higher vacancy rates," Fullerton said. "There's probably going to be an increase in demolitions because some buildings will get abandoned. Eventually, rents per square foot are going to decline as well."
Fullerton also warns local governments are losing funds through lost sales tax collection and lost bridge toll revenue.
He adds that while restrictions and policies have intensified the economic impact, we likely would have seen significant economic strain with or without them.
"The border restrictions have intensified this, but mainly it's because of the Covid-19 disease," Fullerton said. "Losing those lives is where these gigantic economic impacts occur because that reduces the human capital available to the regional economy."