How Are US Cities Coping With Unemployment At The End of 2020?

How are US cities coping with unemloyment

The end of 2020 is coming with mixed news. Americans can look forward to continued unemployment benefits and improved job availability as Congress is putting together a new aid package and the economy recovers slowly. But, are these changes reflecting evenly over all the metropolitan areas across the country? 

Almost all the US cities are doing much better than they were at the beginning of the shutdowns. Take a look at some of the numbers below:

215 metropolitan areas had unemployment rates below the US unemployment rate of 14.4% in April, while 172 areas were above this number. The unemployment rates of only 2 areas were equal to the average in the nation.



The highest unemployment rate in October 2020 was in the Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina area of Hawaii at 22.5%, an improvement from April 2020 when it was 35%. The population here is not as high as Las Vegas, which had an unemployment rate of 33.5% in April; In October 2020, the unemployment rate had dropped to 13.8%.

Significant economic areas that had the highest April-May 2020 unemployment rates are Atlantic City-Henderson-Paradise, Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, etc. Currently, the unemployment rates are highest in El Centro, Las Vegas, Kahului, Paradise, Odessa, and New Orleans- above 10%.

In April, the metropolitan area with the lowest unemployment rate was Logan at 6.2%. In October 2020, it was at 3%. The jobless rate in Washington-Arlington-Alexandria was 9.9% in April 2020, whereas it came down to 6% by October 2020.

The Chicago area has a well-diversified economy, plus the unemployment rate has dropped down to 7.2% from a high of 17.2% in April 2020. New York is currently at 9.7% from the June unemployment rate of 15.9%.

The Detroit metro area was at 24.4% unemployment in April, that improved to 6.3% in October 2020. 

The metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates include Logan, Jefferson City, Columbia, Ames, and Burlington. These areas have less than 3% joblessness.

The economy has been slowly reopening, and hence the unemployment rates in many populated regions have improved further by 1-2 percentage points in November and December.

Why Are Some Cities Doing Worse Than Others?

Some of the large US cities like New York and Seattle are wealthy and globally connected, but some experts opine that these cities aren’t recovering well. New York has the third-largest economy with a backbone in Wall Street and real estate, tourism, and performances, along with the hospitality industry. These are the sectors worst hit by the coronavirus impact.

New York’s mayor disagrees and thinks the reopening of schools and public health expenditure is posited to improve things. Vicki Been, New York’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, pointed out that New York continues to have among the best-educated and skilled workforce in the country.

Meanwhile, other previously thriving cities, had economies organized around travel, tourism, and hospitality like Las Vegas, Honolulu, and Orlando will experience stagnation as long as restrictions remain in place. 

Chicago has imposed strict restrictions on high contact sectors like dining, retail, and entertainment. Since then, job postings have gone down except for the tech sector, where there is a 13 fold increase.

With Congress agreeing on the new $900 billion economic aid package, Americans can breathe in relief because this means more unemployment payments on the horizon. However, with reports of a resurgence of the COVID with a new coronavirus strain and resultant lockdowns, things look uncertain. There is hope that the new vaccine will work.



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  1. it says that it should take 2 to 6 weeks for adjudication to reach out to your employer and your employer has 8 days to respond in the state of Maryland however my funds have been on hold since January of 2021 and to this day still says on hold for unresolved issues because adjudication is pending how can i be waiting for 6 months and recently was told i had to reapply to do weekly certs and that cloned my claim and restarted my January date to june 22nd 2021 is this even legal?

    • Viti,

      The delay is due to the sheer no. of pending cases. Please continue following up with your adjudicator every 4-5 days.

  2. I’m currently in CA and going to be moving to Oregon… I understand I can still collect unemployment in CA while I make the official move, but what if I want to switch over to Oregon unemployment department.

  3. I am pending adjudication for what it now a non-monetary issue. It was changed to that after a phone appointment in which I explained my situation (only claiming 2 weeks due to covid leave, and back to work already). My question is : I have already been waiting about 5 weeks for my adjudication result, which is supposed to be 2-6 weeks – how likely is it I will have to wait longer than 6 weeks due to covid-19 circumstances?

    • Scott,

      There will be an intermittent delay. If you have the adjudicator’s contact details, please follow up regularly.

  4. I was looking for information for Illinois Unemployment. My wife has been receiving unemployment for 6 months. This is due to her job being eliminated. She was eligible for an early reduced IMRF pension but decided not to apply for it. She contacted IMRF and was told that she could go back 1 year for her pension benefit. How would this affect the unemployment she already received. The certification questioner only asked if you had applied or were currently receiving a pension. Would the unemployment she received already before applying for the pension be affected due to getting a lump sum for back pension payment? Thank you.

    • Bill,

      The pension amount will reduce the WBA. Please ask your wife to report it on the website after she logs in with her credentials.

  5. If I’m laid off and I go back to work for three or four weeks and get laid off again do I have to do the one week waiting period before I can collect again?

    • If i was fired but it really was not my fault how long does va have for a deputy to make a decision

      • I completed my e-ajudication and uploaded a w-2 form from 2020 which was requested, however, I then get a letter stating I owe unemployment which makes no sense at all!! I still have 8,000 left on my claim(which by the way is still stating its open and I should continue to claim benefits). I don’t know what to do to resolve this. As I know there is no way I should owe anything and should still be receiving benefits. What do I do?

        • Kelly,

          Please check for funds available in your account online. You can call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

      • Sherry,

        The adjudication will take weeks. Make sure to keep supporting documents handy to support your stance.

  6. I was informed by the automated phone system that my claim for last week 06/12/2021 was not processed due to an outstanding issue on said claim. I have tried for four days to reach a human to assist me in this matter. It’s been impossible! Please help.

    • Anne,

      Wish we could do something for you. This is a private forum. Please continue following up regularly. You can perhaps write them an email.

  7. I am trying to request payments from aug 2015 up until 2017 I never received a debit card and just assumed that I was denied. So i did not request payment but would like to now

    • Katrina,

      That period is past and you might not be able to claim retroactively. Please write the office an email if you wish to.

  8. Ive provided documents that were needed and i have not receive any type of response i have went without benefits for 6 weeks could someone please contact me

    • Sondra,

      Please note this is a private forum and we do not have access to your claim. Please follow up with the office directly.

  9. To whom it may concern, Please what is wrong with the site to claim weeks? I am at the Career Source and they said it has been acting up for 2 days. I am frustrated so I can imagine how many others are like me. I was laid off 4/16/2021. My UI is showing active but still under review. Is there anything you need from me to get this going? I will give it to you. Please July rent coming up. I am tapped from asking from family to get me thru now. Please please please any answers for me? I am begging right now. I can not be late on rent or they will not renew my lease when it is time. I can not move, to costly. I have been here for 20 years. Please any suggestions. I will pay back July rent if my UI goes thru. No reason why it shouldn’t. Please help. Thanks again, Kay

    • Kay,

      It must be a tough time for you. This is a private forum and we do not have access to your claim. Please chase the Office directly.

  10. I just filed for my first weeks benefit and am trying to change the payment method. It does not give me the verify who you are questions?

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