24. Wheeling, WV-OH
> 5 yr. employment change: -10.5% (-6,406 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 10.8%
> Median household income: $50,440
> Poverty rate: 11.4%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 138,948 (-3.6%)
The Wheeling, West Virginia, metro area, toward the northern tip of the state between Ohio and Pennsylvania, reported a 10.5% decline in employment from August 2015 to August 2020 — a loss of over 6,400 jobs. Most of those jobs were shed during the COVID-19 pandemic, when events that serve as economic drivers for the area, like the rodeo at WesBanco Arena, were cancelled or postponed, impacting hotels, restaurants, and more.
23. Houma-Thibodaux, LA
> 5 yr. employment change: -10.6% (-9,814 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 6.4%
> Median household income: $49,874
> Poverty rate: 19.5%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 208,075 (-1.9%)
Unlike virtually every other metro area on this list, the job market in the Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, area fared relatively well amid the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Area employment declined by fewer than 1,500 people, or around 1.7%, from August 2019 to August 2020, the lowest decline of cities on the list. Meanwhile, most metro areas on this list shed well over 10% of their workforce over the past year.
This part of southeastern Louisiana appears on this list largely because the number of jobs declined by around 8,400 from 2015 to 2019. Though the metro area’s unemployment rate was relatively high from 2015 to 2019, it was 6.4% in August 2020 — 2 percentage points lower than the national unemployment rate.
22. Casper, WY
> 5 yr. employment change: -10.6% (-4,249 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 10.2%
> Median household income: $65,034
> Poverty rate: 8.6%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 79,858 (-2.8%)
Between 2015 and 2020, Casper reported job losses in nearly every employment sector, including construction, leisure and hospitality, and retail trade. Yet the sector with the largest employment decline was mining and logging, accounting for approximately 1,700 of the 4,249 jobs lost over the past five years. Wyoming is one of the top coal, oil, and gas-producing states, all of which fall under the mining and logging employment sector. A dip in prices and demand for energy has led to layoffs and site closures.
21. Peoria, IL
> 5 yr. employment change: -10.7% (-18,443 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 9.7%
> Median household income: $60,372
> Poverty rate: 11.3%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 400,561 (-3.0%)
The employment decline brought on by COVID-19 was a continuation of a trend of declining employment in Peoria, Illinois. There were nearly 173,000 people working in the metro area in August 2015, 168,411 in August 2019, and just 154,503 in August 2020. From August 2019 to August 2020, the unemployment rate in Peoria more than doubled, from 4.5% to 9.7%. Though Peoria’s August 2020 unemployment rate is higher than the comparable national 8.4% rate, it is actually lower than the 11.0% rate in Illinois overall.
20. Springfield, MA-CT
> 5 yr. employment change: -10.7% (-36,794 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 11.4%
> Median household income: $62,346
> Poverty rate: 12.6%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 697,382 (-0.5%)
Springfield, Massachusetts, had one of the 20 largest employment declines over the last five years of any U.S. metro area, driven by a substantial employment decline from August 2019 to August 2020. The city lost over 57,500 jobs, or 15.8% of all jobs, over the past year. At 11.4%, Springfield’s August 2020 unemployment rate is 3 percentage points higher than the national rate of 8.4%.
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