Special Report

Places a COVID-19 Recession Will Likely Hit Hardest

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20. Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 23.4%
> Businesses with fewer than 50 employees: 2,914
> COVID-19 cases as of May 6, 2020: 396 (257.6 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: 154,835

Transportation and warehousing employs more than one in every 10 workers in the Chambersburg-Waynesboro metropolitan area — more than triple the comparable employment concentration nationwide. The industry, which tends to shadow broader economic trends, is expected to be one of the hardest hit by the effort to contain COVID-19.

The virus itself has been spreading relatively rapidly through the metro area in recent weeks. As of May 6, there were 396 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the area, a more than 160% increase from two weeks prior.

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19. Grand Junction, CO
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 21.0%
> Businesses with fewer than 50 employees: 4,271
> COVID-19 cases as of May 6, 2020: 46 (30.7 per 100,000)
> Statewide stay-at-home order enacted: March 26, 2020
> Status of stay-at-home order as of May 6, 2020: Rolled back to high risk Groups
> Population: 153,207

The Grand Junction metro area, located in west-central Colorado, is heavily dependent on resource extraction. Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction — one of the hardest hit industries by the near nationwide shutdown of nonessential travel — accounts for nearly 4% of all area jobs, many times greater than the national concentration.

Though Colorado did not impose a stay-at-home order until late March, the statewide unemployment rate that month still rose 2.5 percentage points from February to 5.7%.

The state’s order was rolled back on April 26 and now only applies to residents at increased risk of serious complications from COVID-19.

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18. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 28.6%
> Businesses with fewer than 50 employees: 11,089
> COVID-19 cases as of May 6, 2020: 286 (63.9 per 100,000)
> Statewide stay-at-home order enacted: N/A
> Status of stay-at-home order as of May 6, 2020: Lifted
> Population: 480,891

Myrtle Beach is one of the most popular summer tourist destinations in the Southeast, with over 20 million annual visitors. Some 26.4% of workers in the Myrtle Beach metro area are employed in the leisure and hospitality sector, the fifth largest share of any city nationwide. Many tourism-dependent businesses are also likely to struggle, however, as safety precautions related to the novel coronavirus stall travel and consumer activity around the country.

South Carolina instituted a statewide stay-at-home order on April 7, approximately one month after the state’s first confirmed COVID-19 case. And while the order in South Carolina expired on May 4, major metro areas like Charlotte, Wilmington, and Greensboro, North Carolina, as well as Washington, D.C., and New York — the top five feeder cities for Myrtle Beach tourism in terms of credit card spending — are still under statewide lockdown orders.

Source: Kevin Rutherford / Wikimedia Commons

17. Barnstable Town, MA
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 22.4%
> Businesses with fewer than 50 employees: 8,457
> COVID-19 cases as of May 6, 2020: 969 (453.5 per 100,000)
> Statewide stay-at-home order enacted: March 24, 2020
> Status of stay-at-home order as of May 6, 2020: In place
> Population: 213,413

The Barnstable Town metro area, which makes up the entirety of Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, like many coastal U.S. cities depends heavily on tourism. The leisure and hospitality industry employs about one in every five workers in the metro area, nearly double the national employment concentration for the industry.

Of course, while not all industries are as exposed to the slowdown as tourism, every industry will be affected to some degree — and small businesses that lack the liquid capital of larger businesses will likely struggle to stay afloat during the economic downturn. In Barnstable, More than 97% of all businesses have fewer than 50 employees, nearly the largest share of any metropolitan area in the country.

Source: Bryan Bean / Wikimedia Commons

16. Greeley, CO
> Pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 20.8%
> Businesses with fewer than 50 employees: 6,002
> COVID-19 cases as of May 6, 2020: 1,955 (662.4 per 100,000)
> Statewide stay-at-home order enacted: March 26, 2020
> Status of stay-at-home order as of May 6, 2020: Rolled Back to High Risk Groups
> Population: 314,305

The economy in Greeley, Colorado, is heavily dependent on mining and oil and gas extraction — one of the hardest hit industries by the pandemic. Increased global production and plummeting demand have led to a worldwide oil glut and cratering prices. Across the metro area, nearly 8% of workers are employed in resource extraction, about 17 times the national employment concentration.

Though Colorado did not impose a stay-at-home order until late March, the statewide unemployment rate that month still rose by 1.9 percentage points from February to 4.3%.

The state’s order was rolled back on April 26 and now only applies to residents at increased risk of serious complications from COVID-19.