Special Report

29 American Cities Losing the Most Jobs

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9. Erie, PA
> 5 yr. employment change: -14.9% (-18,952 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 11.2%
> Median household income: $51,818
> Poverty rate: 17.4%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 269,728 (-3.0%)

Though the majority of the Erie, Pennsylvania metro area’s nearly 19,000 jobs shed in the last half decade were lost amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the city’s job market was in decline for years. The manufacturing, retail trade, and professional services sectors in Erie each lost thousands of jobs over the past five years.

The city’s population declined by 3.0% from 2015 to 2019 as employment declined. Erie’s median household income of $51,818 is nearly $14,000 lower than the national median.

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8. Pittsfield, MA
> 5 yr. employment change: -15.5% (-6,328 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 12.6%
> Median household income: $58,895
> Poverty rate: 10.8%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 124,944 (-2.3%)

Pittsfield is one of just eight cities in which employment fell by more than 15% over the last five years. The metro area lost nearly 7,000 jobs from August 2019 through August 2020, wiping out modest gains of a few hundred jobs from the previous four years. Pittsfield, on the western edge of the state, now has a 12.6% unemployment rate, the 13th highest of nearly 400 U.S. metropolitan areas.

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7. Watertown-Fort Drum, NY
> 5 yr. employment change: -15.6% (-6,797 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 10.6%
> Median household income: $53,917
> Poverty rate: 15.5%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 109,834 (-5.6%)

The Watertown area in northern New York lost nearly 6,800 jobs over the last five years, an employment decline of 15.6%. Though much of this decline is at least partially attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, employment declined from 2015 through 2019 as well.

As jobs declined, so did the population of the Watertown metro area. Even before the pandemic, the area’s population declined by over 6,500, or 5.6%, from 2015 to 2019 — the second largest percentage decline of any metro area during that time.

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6. Barnstable Town, MA
> 5 yr. employment change: -16.5% (-19,114 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 12.5%
> Median household income: $85,042
> Poverty rate: 5.2%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 212,990 (-0.4%)

The Barnstable Town metro area, which makes up the entirety of Cape Cod, is one of three Massachusetts metro areas with large employment increases over the past five years. From August 2019 to August 2020, the metropolitan area shed over 26,000 jobs, wiping out the over 7,000 jobs the city added from August 2015 to August 2019. As travel nearly ground to a halt during the pandemic, leisure and hospitality workers were hit the hardest nationwide, and the metro area was no exception. Metro area employment in this sector fell by 8,600 over the past five years, a larger decline than in any other sector.

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5. Williamsport, PA
> 5 yr. employment change: -18.1% (-10,338 jobs)
> August 2020 unemployment rate: 10.4%
> Median household income: $53,881
> Poverty rate: 14.0%
> 2019 population (pct. change from 2015): 113,299 (-2.0%)

Employment in Williamsport, Pennsylvania declined 18.1% from August 2015 to August 2020, as the city lost over 10,000 jobs. Like the vast majority of other cities in the country, Williamsport lost many jobs in the last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but its job market was in decline in the four years before that as well. As was the case nationwide, the leisure and hospitality sector contributed the most to overall job losses in the Williamsport metro area.