Special Report

Cities With the Worst COVID-19 Unemployment Crisis Right Now

Source: AllenS / Wikimedia Commons

20. Farmington, NM
> Sept. 2020 unemployment rate: 11.4%
> 1 yr. employment change: -7.8%
> Largest industry: N/A
> Population: 123,958

Farmington is the only metro area in New Mexico in which at least 10% of the labor force is unemployed. At the beginning of the year, the metro area’s unemployment rate was less than 6%. By April, after the coronavirus had shut down large segments of the national economy, unemployment in Farmington spiked to 13.6% and peaked at 14.5% in July. Since then, however, the local jobless rate has improved every month and now stands at 11.4%.

Source: Solidago / Getty Images

19. Salinas, CA
> Sept. 2020 unemployment rate: 11.6%
> 1 yr. employment change: -11.0%
> Largest industry: Government (23.5% of local jobs)
> Population: 434,061

Over the past year, Salinas, California, shed about 16,000 jobs. The losses, largely resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, were concentrated in the metro area’s leisure and hospitality industry, which reported a 22.6% employment decline, as well as the professional and business services industry, where employment fell by 17.8%. As of September 2020, Salinas’ unemployment rate was 11.6%, up from 5.9% one year earlier.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

18. Lake Charles, LA
> Sept. 2020 unemployment rate: 11.8%
> 1 yr. employment change: -20.5%
> Largest industry: Mining, logging, and construction (20.4% of local jobs)
> Population: 209,035

Across the United States, the leisure and hospitality industry has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Lake Charles, Louisiana, the industry was hit especially hard. Some 6,100 fewer people are working in leisure and hospitality jobs in the metro area today compared to a year ago, a 41.5% decline. For context, the industry shed 21.2% of its workforce nationwide over the same period.

Due to massive job losses in leisure and hospitality and other industries — including trade, transportation, and utilities and mining, logging, and construction — the jobless rate in Lake Charles stands at 11.8%, up from just 4.6% at the beginning of the year.

Source: jmoor17 / Getty Images

17. Modesto, CA
> Sept. 2020 unemployment rate: 11.9%
> 1 yr. employment change: -8.8%
> Largest industry: Trade, transportation, and utilities (20.6% of local jobs)
> Population: 550,660

Modesto is one of several cities in California’s Central Valley where at least 10% of the labor force is out of work. Due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, over the course of the past year, employment in the trade, transportation, and utilities industry — the largest in the metro area — dropped by 10.3%. Job losses in the area’s leisure and hospitality industry fell by 24.0% over the same period. All told, overall employment fell by 8.8% from September 2019 to September 2020 in Modesto, and the current local unemployment rate of 11.9% is among the highest in the country.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

16. Fresno, CA
> Sept. 2020 unemployment rate: 12.0%
> 1 yr. employment change: -6.9%
> Largest industry: Education and health services (20.1% of local jobs)
> Population: 999,101

Employment in Fresno, California fell by nearly 7.0% over the past year. As is the case nationwide, the industry reporting the largest one-year drop in employment in Fresno is leisure and hospitality, where the industry now employs about 30% fewer people than last year.

Currently, the monthly unemployment rate in Fresno is 12.0%. Similar to many other cities on this list located in California’s Central Valley, Fresno had a relatively high jobless rate already before the COVID-19 recession. In January 2020, 6.9% of the local labor force was out of work, compared to the 3.6% national unemployment rate.

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