The U.S. economy added roughly 2.4 million workers over the past year. Over the same period, the unemployment rate fell from 5.0% to 4.9%, close to the lowest it has been in nearly a decade. The 1.7% employment growth nationwide was not uniform, and some areas lost a substantial share of workers.
To determine the cities that lost the most jobs, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most cities added jobs in past 12 months, and most have posted unemployment declines. In 75 metro areas, however, there was a net loss in total employment. The Lafayette, Louisiana metro area had the greatest loss workers, with total employment falling by 4.5% since October 2015.
One major factor driving employment changes across the United States is industrial composition. Continued outsourcing and automation has lowered international demand for American manufacturing, and the downturn in the price of petroleum has hurt the oil and gas sector. Nationwide, the worst performing sectors were manufacturing, information, and mining, logging, and construction.
Cities with economies that heavily depend on these industries tended to have the most job loss. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Martin Kohli, chief regional economist at the BLS, explained that a “large concentration of employment in energy and construction-related industries has definitely been negative in the last few years for communities.” In many cases, a major round of layoffs or plant shutdowns contributed to employment declines in the past year.
People are not likely to move to a city without a job or some other opportunity available. As a result, the distribution of employment growth across the country mirrors today’s domestic migration patterns. Kohli added that residents of the Northeast and Midwest, where a majority of the metro areas are losing workers, have been relocating to major cities in the Sun Belt, which is gaining the most workers.
Employment tends to increase as unemployment declines. In metropolitan areas losing the most workers, employment declines contributed to labor force declines and a rise in unemployment. In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for example, the 14,200 workers lost in Oklahoma City was among the most of any metro area. At the same time, the labor force shrank by a total of 9,000 workers, while area unemployment rate rose from 3.6% to 4.4%.
To identify the cities losing the most workers, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed metropolitan statistical areas with the largest employment decline from October 2015 through October 2016. Unemployment rates, the size of the labor force, and employment levels are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and are seasonally adjusted. Industry-specific growth rates for the same period are from the Current Employment Survey (CES), a monthly BLS survey. Educational attainment is from the 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) of the U.S. Census Bureau.
These are the cities losing the most jobs.