Special Report

Cities With the Worst COVID-19 Unemployment Crisis Right Now

30. Leominster-Gardner, MA
> Sept. 2020 unemployment rate: 10.7%
> 1 yr. employment change: -9.2%
> Largest industry: Education and health services (20.8% of local jobs)
> Population: N/A

The unemployment rate in Leominster-Gardner, a metro area in north-central Massachusetts, stands at 10.7% — well above the comparable 7.9% national rate. The local job market went from being one of the best in the country in March 2020, with a 3.1% jobless rate, to one of the worst in April, when unemployment hit 17.4%. Since peaking at 19.2% in June, unemployment has steadily improved in Leominster-Gardner.

Nationwide, the industry hit hardest by the COVID-19 recession was leisure and hospitality. In Leominster-Gardner, however, information was the hardest-hit industry, shedding 25.0% of jobs over the past year. The local leisure and hospitality industry workforce contracted by 22.0% over the same period.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

29. Providence-Warwick, RI-MA
> Sept. 2020 unemployment rate: 10.8%
> 1 yr. employment change: -6.6%
> Largest industry: Education and health services (21.3% of local jobs)
> Population: 1.6 million

The Providence-Warwick metro area has the second highest unemployment rate in New England and the 29th highest nationwide. Due in large part to the COVID-19 recession, there are about 40,000 fewer people working in Providence than there were one year ago. As is the case across the country, the area’s leisure and hospitality industry and services sectors were the hardest hit by the pandemic. Providence’s unemployment rate hit a one-year high of 18.5% in April 2020 and now stands at 10.8%.

Source: Ron_Thomas / Getty Images

28. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
> Sept. 2020 unemployment rate: 10.9%
> 1 yr. employment change: -7.2%
> Largest industry: Trade, transportation, and utilities (19.7% of local jobs)
> Population: 9.5 million

Chicago’s is one of three metropolitan areas in the Midwest with double-digit unemployment. The job market in the Chicago area was decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic as unemployment shot from 4.6% in March to 17.6% in April. As of September, the jobless rate in the area was 10.9%, as there are about 345,900 fewer jobs than there were in September 2019.

Over that period, every industry in Chicago shed jobs, but none contracted as much as the leisure and hospitality industry, where the number of workers fell by 23.5%.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

27. Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ
> Sept. 2020 unemployment rate: 10.9%
> 1 yr. employment change: -14.1%
> Largest industry: Leisure and hospitality (31.4% of local jobs)
> Population: 263,670

Tourism is the backbone of Atlantic City’s economy, and when the COVID-19 pandemic ground nonessential travel to a halt in much of the country, the Atlantic City metro area felt the squeeze as much as anywhere else, if not more. From March to April, unemployment in the metro area jumped from 5.3% to 34.0%. When Atlantic City’s monthly jobless rate peaked at 35.2% in June, it was the highest of any metro area in the country. Unemployment has improved considerably in the months since, however, and now stands at 10.9%,

Source: stevegeer / Getty Images

26. Muskegon, MI
> Sept. 2020 unemployment rate: 11.0%
> 1 yr. employment change: -11.0%
> Largest industry: Manufacturing (21.3% of local jobs)
> Population: 173,566

The unemployment rate in the Muskegon, Michigan, metropolitan area more than doubled — from 4.2% in September 2019 to 11.0% a year later.

Nationwide, the industry hit hardest by the COVID-19 recession was leisure and hospitality. In Muskegon, however, information was the hardest hit industry, shedding 33.3% of jobs over the past year. The local leisure and hospitality industry workforce in Muskegon contracted by 31.6% over the same period.