The Jobs Market

Cities Whose Unemployment Rates Are Bouncing Back The Most

Cautious optimism as the market moves in a positive direction

New market research from the consumer finance and credit site WalletHub.com. Reprinted with permission. To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit here.

The employment market is continuing to move in a positive direction, as the latest jobs report shows that the national unemployment rate has fallen to 11.1%, which is 25% below the peak of 14.7% during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. To provide more context at the city level, WalletHub today released its report on the Cities Whose Unemployment Rates Are Bouncing Back Most, as a follow-up to our report on the States Whose Unemployment Claims Are Recovering the Quickest, along with accompanying videos and audio files.

This report uses new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which recently disclosed that it erroneously didn’t count many workers on temporary layoffs as unemployed. Therefore, the real unemployment rate may be around 11 percent higher than reported, and our report includes both the official rate and an “adjusted” rate based on this error.

Most Recovered Cities

1. Lexington-Fayette, KY

11. West Valley City, UT

2. Louisville, KY

12. Augusta, GA

3. Bismarck, ND

13. Durham, NC

4. Nampa, ID

14. Tallahassee, FL

5. Cheyenne, WY

15. Lubbock, TX

6. Las Cruces, NM

16. Albuquerque, NM

7. Washington, DC

17. Lewiston, ME

8. Billings, MT

18. Fort Smith, AR

9. Amarillo, TX

19. Plano, TX

10. Boise, ID

20. Raleigh, NC

WalletHub Q&A: WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez considers how cities and states have measured and managed the pandemic response:

Should cities have more restrictions than states if they see cases rising locally, even if it hurts employment?
“Public health should take precedence, so cities can choose to have more restrictions than states if there is a local spike in COVID-19 cases. Some cities, such as Nashville, Las Vegas and Miami, have already closed certain businesses that they previously allowed to reopen. It’s important to keep in mind that local lockdowns are only effective under certain conditions. Unless the flow of people to and from highly-affected areas gets restricted, the virus will spread wherever infected people travel.”

How can unemployed people prepare for the extra $600 per week in benefits to potentially end in July?
“In preparation for the extra $600 per week in benefits to potentially end in July, unemployed people should draw up a monthly budget and see what non-essential purchases they can cut back on in order to avoid any difficulty paying bills. Those who are fortunate enough to have money left over in the weeks leading to the reduction in benefits should put that extra money into savings. People who are unemployed should make finding a job their top priority by dedicating extra time to job searching and being willing to find temporary work wherever they can. Some of the best places to look for work include essential businesses, retail stores and other places that are among the first to reopen, and companies that regularly do remote work, such as tech support.”

Will promoting social distancing in public help cities’ unemployment rates recover more quickly?
“Promoting social distancing in public will have a positive impact on the recovery of cities’ unemployment rates. WalletHub’s research shows that around only around 30 percent of consumers would be comfortable shopping in person without protective measures, but another 47 percent would be comfortable if various protections were put in place, like mandatory mask wearing or plexiglass shields at the register. Social distancing while reopening inspires greater consumer confidence, which in turn will lead to more people shopping and a greater cash flow to businesses, enabling them to start hiring again sooner.”

How are city budgets affected by the coronavirus crisis and resulting unemployment?
“Many cities are experiencing massive budget deficits because of the coronavirus crisis, and this will only become more difficult to manage as cities continue to struggle to support affected industries. Without federal help, many cities may be forced to make big cuts to their budgets, to the detriment of education, recreational programs and other important services that take a backseat to immediate health concerns.”

New York City has experienced the largest number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. How has New York City’s unemployment rate been affected?
“New York City has experienced a 469% increase in unemployment from January 2020 to June. This is worse than the average increase of 214%. New York City’s overall unemployment rate is 20.4%, compared to the average of 11.1%.”