Special Report

29 American Cities Losing the Most Jobs

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19. Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA
> 5 yr. employment change: -11.3% (-29,567 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 11.5%
> Median household income: $54,304
> Poverty rate: 14.9%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 553,885 (-0.7%)

Over the last five years, the Scranton, Pennsylvania, area lost nearly 30,000 jobs, or 11.3% of all jobs. Every job sector for which there is data reported job losses during that time, including leisure and hospitality, business services, retail trade, manufacturing, and more. More than 30,000 workers in the Scranton area are unemployed, accounting for an unemployment rate of 11.5%, one of the 30 highest among all major U.S. cities.

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18. Las Cruces, NM
> 5 yr. employment change: -11.4% (-9,993 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 11.3%
> Median household income: $43,038
> Poverty rate: 25.9%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 218,195 (1.9%)

Las Cruces is one of three major New Mexico cities that have lost the most jobs in the past five years. From August 2015 to August 2020, the city lost nearly 10,000 jobs, or 11.4% of total employment. The metro area’s August 2020 unemployment rate of 11.3% was well beyond the 8.4% national rate. Though it lost thousands of jobs across the leisure and hospitality, retail trade, and government sectors, Las Cruces actually added some jobs in manufacturing and wholesale trade.

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17. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
> 5 yr. employment change: -11.9% (-15,766 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 9.8%
> Median household income: $89,269
> Poverty rate: 10.1%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 273,213 (-0.1%)

The Santa Cruz metro area on the coast of Central California lost nearly 19,000 jobs from August 2019 to August 2020, erasing the job market gains of the four years prior. Though the metro area’s August 2020 unemployment rate of 9.8% is higher than the national rate of 8.4%, it is better than California’s August 2020 unemployment rate of 11.4%.

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16. Goldsboro, NC
> 5 yr. employment change: -12.8% (-6,467 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 6.2%
> Median household income: $44,596
> Poverty rate: 19.4%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 123,131 (-1.0%)

Unlike nearly every other city on this list, Goldsboro, North Carolina, has a relatively low unemployment rate, at 6.2%. Nationwide, the unemployment rate is 8.4%, and in North Carolina it is 6.5%. Yet Goldsboro is still one of just 16 metro areas in which employment has declined by more than 12% over the last five years. As is often the case in the metro areas on this list, the vast majority of jobs were lost between August 2019 and August 2020, when COVID-19 led to a national unemployment crisis.

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15. Urban Honolulu, HI
> 5 yr. employment change: -13.3% (-59,331 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 10.5%
> Median household income: $87,470
> Poverty rate: 8.1%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 974,563 (-1.7%)

Honolulu is one of two Hawaiian cities with employment declines of more than 10% over the past five years. The metro area lost more than 59,000 jobs — most of them in the leisure and hospitality sector. Honolulu had a very low unemployment rate ahead of the pandemic, at 2.6% in August 2019. A year later, the jobless rate had spiked to 10.5%, higher than the U.S. unemployment rate by 2.1 percentage points.