The COVID-19 pandemic knocked unemployment to levels last seen during the Great Recession. That was in March and April of last year. By February 2021, the jobless rate had bounced back to 6.2%. That is still far from late 2019 and the start of 2020, when the number was 3.5%, a 50-year low.
The recovery of jobs by city and state has been very uneven. El Centro, California, had a jobless rate of 16.5% two months ago, the highest in America according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At the same time, in Logan, Utah, the figure was 2.5%. The unevenness is expected to continue.
The Brookings Institute looked at job prospects by industry, state and city between now and 2029. In a report titled, “In some cities, the pandemic’s economic pain may continue for a decade,” Brookings first looked at a job forecast by industry. The industry expected to recover the most and then surpass past employment levels is “professional, scientific, and technical” jobs, followed closely by “information” jobs.
Industries expected to struggle over the next decade are led by “accommodation and food services.” This should not be surprising. The pandemic gutted jobs from hotels, restaurants and cruise ships. Cities and states that rely on these industries have had the highest unemployment in BLS studies for the past several months.
Brookings compared its own “worst case” scenarios for cities, based largely on the industries that dominant them. Las Vegas was expected to do badly, based on BLS forecasts. Brookings believes it may do worse than the government numbers because of the concentration of leisure industries.
Three other cities are expected to do much worse than the BLS forecasts. Each is dominated by leisure workers. These include Kahului, Hawaii; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Ocean City, New Jersey. Gambling dominated Atlantic City and Las Vegas, while Ocean City and Kahului are resort cities.
The Brookings forecasts show that the ripple effect of the pandemic reaches far beyond the near future and that job levels in some cities will be affected for nearly a decade.