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

Updated : December 22nd, 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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