Special Report

Places a COVID-19 Recession Will Likely Hit Hardest

25. Victoria, TX
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 21.7%
> Businesses with fewer than 50 employees: 2,315
> COVID-19 cases as of May 6, 2020: 150 (150.8 per 100,000)
> Statewide stay-at-home order enacted: April 2, 2020
> Status of stay-at-home order as of May 6, 2020: Lifted
> Population: 99,047

The economy of the Victoria, Texas, metropolitan area is far more susceptible to long-term economic harm from the COVID-19 slowdown than most. The oil and gas industry is an economic pillar in Victoria — but it is also an industry that has been among the hardest hit during the pandemic. Plummeting global demand has led to a worldwide oil glut and cratering prices. Across the metro area, 6% of workers were employed in resource extraction before the COVID-19 crisis, about 12 times the national employment concentration.

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

24. Hot Springs, AR
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 21.9%
> Businesses with fewer than 50 employees: 2,653
> COVID-19 cases as of May 6, 2020: 117 (119.0 per 100,000)
> Statewide stay-at-home order enacted: N/A
> Status of stay-at-home order as of May 6, 2020: N/A
> Population: 99,154

In the Hot Springs, Arkansas, metropolitan area, an estimated 22% of all workers were employed in industries most susceptible to slowdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, such as leisure and hospitality.

Though Arkansas is one of only a handful of states to have not issued a stay-at-home order, certain nonessential businesses closed or have been operating at reduced capacity — and in Hot Springs, the vast majority of them are small operations that typically do not have the same liquid capital as larger companies do to cover expenses during a sustained downturn. More than 2,600 businesses in Hot Springs operate with fewer than 50 employees.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

23. Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 21.3%
> Businesses with fewer than 50 employees: 17,475
> COVID-19 cases as of May 6, 2020: 6,445 (772.2 per 100,000)
> Statewide stay-at-home order enacted: April 1, 2020
> Status of stay-at-home order as of May 6, 2020: In place
> Population: 842,913

The Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metro area has been one of the hardest hit by the virus. There have been 772 confirmed infections and 38 fatalities for every 100,000 people in the metro area as of May 6 — well above the national rates of 368 and 20 per 100,000, respectively.

In an effort to reduce the spread, Pennsylvania imposed a statewide stay-at-home order on April 1. Though the order is currently slated to lift on May 8, many of the nearly 17,500 small businesses in the metropolitan area may not survive the period of reduced or nonexistent revenue. As of March — even before the stay-at-home order took effect — the area’s unemployment rate stood at 5.8%, up 1.1 percentage points from February.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

22. Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 22.8%
> Businesses with fewer than 50 employees: 7,461
> COVID-19 cases as of May 6, 2020: 211 (79.1 per 100,000)
> Statewide stay-at-home order enacted: April 3, 2020
> Status of stay-at-home order as of May 6, 2020: Lifted
> Population: 278,644

Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin sits along the Gulf of Mexico in Florida’s panhandle. Like many coastal Florida cities, the Crestview area economy depends heavily on tourism — an industry being devastated as hundreds of millions of Americans have been under strict stay-at-home orders. About one in every five workers in the metro area were employed in the leisure and hospitality industry prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

The state of Florida implemented a stay-at-home order on April 3 and lifted it for most places on May 4. Though the shutdown did not last as long as it did in most other states, it will likely still be a long time before businesses return to normal. Currently, stores and restaurants in the state can only operate at 25% capacity.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / E+ via Getty Images

21. Casper, WY
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 23.6%
> Businesses with fewer than 50 employees: 2,863
> COVID-19 cases as of May 6, 2020: 38 (47.1 per 100,000)
> Statewide stay-at-home order enacted: N/A
> Status of stay-at-home order as of May 6, 2020: N/A
> Population: 79,115

Casper is one of a handful of mining-dependent economies suffering during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7.1% of Casper’s workforce is employed in the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector, the fifth largest share of any metro area. Including other industries, a total of 23.6% of employment in Casper is in industries identified by Moody’s as high-risk during the coronavirus pandemic.

Casper is also home to a large number of small businesses that may lack the cash on hand necessary to stay afloat during an economic downturn. Some 99.1% of business establishments in Casper have fewer than 100 employees, the second largest share of any metro area.