Special Report

Cities With the Worst Unemployment Since the Pandemic Started

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13. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
> Unemployment rate, June 2020: 17.6%
> Year-to-date employment change: -18.1%
> Cumulative COVID-19 cases to date: 208,674 (1,573 per 100,000 people)
> Poverty rate: 13.3%
> Population: 13.3 million

Along with places like Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and New York, Los Angeles is one of several major American metro areas with especially high unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of June, 17.6% of the LA metro area’s labor force was out of work, well above the 11.1% national jobless rate. The number of people working in the metro area now stands at around 5.3 million, down 18.1% from 6.5 million at the beginning of 2020.

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12. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
> Unemployment rate, June 2020: 17.7%
> Year-to-date employment change: -19.0%
> Cumulative COVID-19 cases to date: 51,074 (1,183 per 100,000 people)
> Poverty rate: 14.3%
> Population: 4.3 million

There are nearly 400,000 fewer people working in the Detroit metro area than there were at the beginning of the year. Mass layoffs and business closures in recent months have driven the metro area’s unemployment rate up to 17.7% from just 4.0% in January.

While Detroit’s job market ranks among the worst in the country, it has improved markedly in recent weeks. In May 2020, the area’s unemployment rate stood at 23.2%.

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11. Muskegon, MI
> Unemployment rate, June 2020: 17.8%
> Year-to-date employment change: -8.0%
> Cumulative COVID-19 cases to date: 1,089 (629 per 100,000 people)
> Poverty rate: 15.8%
> Population: 173,588

The unemployment rate in Muskegon, Michigan, has improved considerably in recent months, falling from 29.8% in April to 17.8% in June. Despite the marked improvement, the metro area still has one of the worst job markets in the country.

Widespread unemployment in Muskegon is causing considerable economic harm to residents of a metro area where financial hardship was relatively common to begin with. In Muskegon, 15.8% of the population lives below the poverty line, compared to 13.1% of Americans nationwide.

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10. Visalia-Porterville, CA
> Unemployment rate, June 2020: 17.8%
> Year-to-date employment change: -14.8%
> Cumulative COVID-19 cases to date: 8,392 (1,822 per 100,000 people)
> Poverty rate: 22.5%
> Population: 465,861

The unemployment rate in the Visalia-Porterville metro area stands at 17.8%, higher than in all but a handful of other U.S. metropolitan areas. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated tens of thousands of jobs in the metro area, Visalia-Porterville was struggling with mass unemployment. In January, 9.3% of the area’s labor force was unemployed, more than double the 3.6% national jobless rate.

Generally, lower-income Americans have been at increased risk of unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Visalia-Porterville, most households earn less than $49,000 a year, while the typical American household earns about $62,000 annually.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

9. Pittsfield, MA
> Unemployment rate, June 2020: 17.9%
> Year-to-date employment change: -19.1%
> Cumulative COVID-19 cases to date: 645 (507 per 100,000 people)
> Poverty rate: 10.8%
> Population: 126,348

Nearly one in every five jobs that existed in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at the beginning of the year have disappeared. Over the same period, the metro area’s unemployment rate jumped from 3.4% to 17.9%, one of the largest percentage point increases in the country. The economy across Massachusetts as a whole has been affected more than most of the country by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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