Special Report

29 American Cities Losing the Most Jobs

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29. Flagstaff, AZ
> 5 yr. employment change: -10.2% (-6,990 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 7.7%
> Median household income: $58,085
> Poverty rate: 15.8%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 143,476 (3.2%)

Flagstaff, Arizona, is one of 29 U.S. metro areas in which the total employment has declined by more than 10% from August 2015 to August 2020. There were 68,251 workers in Flagstaff in August 2015, and nearly 7,000 fewer workers five years later.

Like nearly every other city on this list, the majority of job losses can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn. Flagstaff actually added nearly 5,000 jobs from August 2015 to August 2019, before losing nearly 12,000 jobs from August 2019 to August 2020. The majority of all jobs lost during the past year were in the leisure and hospitality sector as travel nearly ground to a halt amid the pandemic.

28. Altoona, PA
> 5 yr. employment change: -10.3% (-5,956 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 9.4%
> Median household income: $51,004
> Poverty rate: 15.6%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 121,829 (-2.2%)

Altoona is one of five Pennsylvania cities in which employment declined by more than 10% in the last five years — no other state has as many cities with such large employment decreases. Though the COVID-19 pandemic hit Altoona hard, it was already struggling. The city had already lost over 1,000 jobs between 2015 and 2019. Employment further decreased by nearly 5,000 from August 2019 to August 2020.

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27. Glens Falls, NY
> 5 yr. employment change: -10.4% (-5,984 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 9.5%
> Median household income: $61,255
> Poverty rate: 10.8%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 125,148 (-1.2%)

Glens Falls, located about 50 miles North of Albany along the Hudson River, is one of two New York metro areas in which employment fell by over 10% over the past five years. The largest share of lost jobs were in the leisure and hospitality industry. Though many of the nearly 6,000 jobs lost in Glens Falls since 2015 were lost due to COVID-19, the area’s job market was already in decline before the pandemic. The metro area lost around 1,300 jobs between August 2015 and August 2019.

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26. Visalia-Porterville, CA
> 5 yr. employment change: -10.4% (-18,559 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 13.9%
> Median household income: $57,692
> Poverty rate: 18.8%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 466,195 (2.0%)

Though the Visalia-Porterville area lost more jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry than any other industry, like many other cities on this list, a large number of its industries have struggled as well. The area has lost hundreds of jobs in the manufacturing, finance, and retail trade sectors over the past five years. As of August 2020, the area had the seventh highest unemployment rate of any major U.S. metro area, with 13.9% of the labor force out of work, compared to the overall nationwide unemployment rate of 8.4%.

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25. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
> 5 yr. employment change: -10.4% (-644,367 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 14.4%
> Median household income: $77,774
> Poverty rate: 12.4%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 13,214,799 (-0.2%)

With the Los Angeles metro area losing more than 644,000 jobs over the past five years, L.A. trails only the New York City metro area in total job losses in that time. The 10.4% employment decline from 2015 to 2020 ranks 25th highest in the nation. Before the pandemic, the Los Angeles economy appeared strong, adding over 310,000 jobs from 2015 to 2019, with the unemployment rate falling from 5.8% to 3.9% in that time. Yet the pandemic wiped out those gains. In fact, employment fell by over 955,000 from August 2019 to August 2020, with the leisure and hospitality industry shedding the most jobs.