Since COVID-19 was declared a national emergency, the American job market has struggled. The August 2020 unemployment rate of 8.4% was more than double the August 2019 rate of just 3.7%. While job losses in some of American cities are mostly attributed to the recent economic fallout, in some areas of the country, job losses have been ongoing for years.
To identify the American cities losing the most jobs, 24/7 Wall St. ranked U.S. metropolitan statistical areas by the percent decline in the total number of people employed over the five years from August 2015 to August 2020.
Though just about every industry has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, leisure and hospitality workers have been hit the hardest. There were over 2.6 million fewer jobs in this industry in August 2020 than five years before as hotels, amusement parks, and other nonessential services nearly ground to a halt. Many of the cities losing the most jobs shed more leisure and hospitality jobs than those of any other sector.
Many large retailers have also struggled to deal with the fallout from COVID-19 as consumers have spent less on clothing and nonessential items. Thousands of Americans working in retail have been furloughed or laid off as major national brands shutter dozens of locations, or cease operations altogether. These are the American businesses that may not survive coronavirus.
Though the cities experiencing the largest employment declines were spread all across the country, roughly one-third are in the Rust Belt area. The region, once known for its manufacturing, has experienced economic contraction for many years as many manufacturing jobs have been lost to automation or gone overseas. Many Rust Belt cities experienced high job losses even before the pandemic, a trend that continued as COVID-19 hit. The lack of jobs has driven many people out of these cities in search of employment in other areas. These are the cities Americans are abandoning.