Special Report

Cities With the Worst Unemployment Since the Pandemic Started

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23. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL
> Unemployment rate, June 2020: 16.4%
> Year-to-date employment change: -19.6%
> Cumulative COVID-19 cases to date: 45,406 (1,853 per 100,000 people)
> Poverty rate: 13.9%
> Population: 2.6 million

Few industries have been hit as hard by the COVID-19 recession as tourism. Home to several theme parks, including Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando’s economy depends on tourism. The number of people working in the metro area has fallen by nearly 20% since the beginning of the year. Currently, the jobless rate in the metropolitan area stands at 16.4%, well above the 11.1% national rate. After being closed for more than three months, Disney World reopened in July.

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22. Salinas, CA
> Unemployment rate, June 2020: 16.5%
> Year-to-date employment change: -22.1%
> Cumulative COVID-19 cases to date: 3,901 (900 per 100,000 people)
> Poverty rate: 13.4%
> Population: 435,594

Salinas is one of 10 California metro areas to rank on this list. Since January, more than one in every five jobs have disappeared in Salinas. Over the same period, the metro area’s jobless rate nearly tripled from 5.8% to 16.5%.

As is the case in much of the country — even in many metro areas on this list — Salinas’ current unemployment rate represents an improvement from the earliest months of the pandemic. The jobless rate in Salinas stood at 20.0% as recently as April.

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21. Flint, MI
> Unemployment rate, June 2020: 16.6%
> Year-to-date employment change: -8.2%
> Cumulative COVID-19 cases to date: 3,327 (813 per 100,000 people)
> Poverty rate: 18.8%
> Population: 406,892

Flint, Michigan is one of many poor American cities where unemployment has been soaring since the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S. The number of people working in the Flint metro area fell by 8.2% from January 2020 through June 2020. The metro area’s unemployment rate now stands at 16.6%, higher than in all but 20 other U.S. metro areas.

While the pandemic has contributed to thousands of job losses in Flint this year, the metro area’s job market was not especially strong going into 2020. Flint’s January unemployment rate of 4.6% was well above the 3.6% national rate.

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20. Rockford, IL
> Unemployment rate, June 2020: 16.7%
> Year-to-date employment change: -11.2%
> Cumulative COVID-19 cases to date: 4,234 (1,246 per 100,000 people)
> Poverty rate: 15.8%
> Population: 337,658

The 16.7% unemployment rate in Rockford, Illinois, is among the highest of any U.S. metro area. Still, the metro area’s jobless rate is a marked improvement from what it was in the early weeks of the pandemic. As recently as April, the unemployment rate in Rockford stood at a staggering 23.7%.

While the improvement in recent months is encouraging, the metro area’s job market has a long way to go. More than one in every 10 jobs that existed in Rockford at the beginning of January have disappeared.

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19. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
> Unemployment rate, June 2020: 16.7%
> Year-to-date employment change: -18.3%
> Cumulative COVID-19 cases to date: 84,214 (1,750 per 100,000 people)
> Poverty rate: 9.2%
> Population: 4.9 million

The Northeastern United States has been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic — and economies across the region have also been taking a hit. In Boston, the largest metro area in New England, 16.7% of the labor force is out of work, one of the highest unemployment rates of any U.S. metro area. In January 2020, before COVID-19 had hit most of the country, there were about 2.8 million people working in the Boston metro area. As of June, there were only 2.3 million workers — an 18.3% decline.

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