Special Report

American Cities Losing the Most Jobs This Year

Duluth, Minnesota
Source: Thinkstock

20. Duluth, MN-WI
> Employment change: -1.67%
> No. of jobs Oct. 2015: 133,885
> No. of jobs Oct. 2016: 131,650
> Unemployment rate Oct. 2016: 5.6%

Over the past year, the Duluth workforce contracted by 1.7%. The employment decline may stem from the overall economic decline of Minnesota’s Iron Range, a mining region in which a steep downturn in iron-ore prices has led to massive layoffs and shutdowns. While not a part of the Iron Range, Duluth relies heavily on the mining industry. The DM&IR railroad is the transportation hub for much of the ore produced in the Iron Range, and the Port of Duluth-Superior is the exit point for many of the mining products that are shipped throughout the Great Lakes region. As the Iron Range generates less revenue, Duluth’s trade facilities may suffer. Employment in the metro area’s trade, transportation, and utilities industries declined the most of any sector in Duluth in the past year.

Alexandria, Louisiana
Source: Wikimedia Commons

19. Alexandria, LA
> Employment change: -1.67%
> No. of jobs Oct. 2015: 62,409
> No. of jobs Oct. 2016: 61,367
> Unemployment rate Oct. 2016: 6.5%

Alexandria lost a net total of more than 1,000 workers over the past year. As employment in the metro area fell by 1.7%, the number of workers nationwide increased by the same amount. Like many metropolitan areas in Louisiana, the loss was largely due to the decline in oil prices. As employment in the area fell, the unemployment rate rose, from 6.1% to 6.5%.

Decatur, Illinois
Source: Wikimedia Commons

18. Decatur, IL
> Employment change: -1.68%
> No. of jobs Oct. 2015: 47,203
> No. of jobs Oct. 2016: 46,409
> Unemployment rate Oct. 2016: 6.6%

The number of unemployed people in Decatur fell by more than 400 over the past 12 months. While this decline may appear to be an improvement in employment market conditions, it may actually be more an indication of area residents giving up looking for work as the area’s labor force contracted by an even greater 1,219 workers. Total employment dropped by 1.7%.

Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Source: Wikimedia Commons

17. Williamsport, PA
> Employment change: -1.82%
> No. of jobs Oct. 2015: 56,793
> No. of jobs Oct. 2016: 55,758
> Unemployment rate Oct. 2016: 6.9%

The Williamsport, Pennsylvania metropolitan area’s largest industry is the trade, transportation, and utilities sector, which accounts for about one in five area workers. Williamsport employment in that sector also took the biggest hit over the past year, declining by about 300 employees for a 2.7% decline. As a whole, the number of workers employed in the area declined by more than 1,000.

Fairbanks, Alaska 2
Source: Thinkstock

16. Fairbanks, AK
> Employment change: -1.86%
> No. of jobs Oct. 2015: 43,823
> No. of jobs Oct. 2016: 43,007
> Unemployment rate Oct. 2016: 6.1%

Low-skilled jobs tend to be less stable and more subject to major job cuts. The major industries to lose workers over the past year — energy and manufacturing — tend to rely on workers without a college degree. In most of the metropolitan areas to lose the most workers, a lower share of the adult population has a bachelor’s degree than the national share of 30.6%. Fairbanks is an exception. Despite an above-average 34.5% bachelor’s attainment rate, area employment fell by 1.9% over the past year. Fairbanks’ government sector shed the largest share of jobs over that period.

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