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Metros with the most low-income job losses due to COVID-19

Aine Givens on

Published in Slideshow World

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Metros with the most low-income job losses due to COVID-19

Across the country, low-wage workers were hardest hit by job losses during the coronavirus pandemic, and according to the Brookings Institution, those jobs were the slowest to return. Many workers were on economically shaky ground before the pandemic and were less able to withstand the loss of employment.

Per The Washington Post, the recession was the most unequal in modern U.S. history. For example, people in California making less than $40,000 a year were most likely to have been laid off or furloughed, according to a report from the state’s Future of Work Commission. Low-income women fared the worst. Only 22% of workers in the state were able to work remotely regularly.

Similarly, a report from the Oregon Employment Department, “Disparate Impacts of the Pandemic Recession in Oregon,” found that low-income workers, women, and people of color were the most likely to have lost work. The report notes that just before the pandemic began, the number of unemployed people (77,900) reached an all-time low.

Stacker analyzed data from the Urban Institute, published July 2, 2021, to rank metro areas by low-income job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. States are ranked according to the percent of low-income jobs lost due to the pandemic and ties are broken by the state’s total percent of jobs lost as a result. "Low-income" is defined as anyone earning at or below the poverty line.

Visit thestacker.com for similar lists and stories.

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#50. Astoria, Oregon

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.3% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 7.7% - Total low-income workers in metro: 12,534

In April 2020, unemployment in Clatsop County, where Astoria is the county seat, peaked at 24.2%. It dropped to 6.1% in November 2020, then rose slightly to 8.1% in February 2021. The Employment Department also noted that smaller cities with less diverse economies like Astoria had higher unemployment rates. Astoria, which is on the coast, is more dependent on tourism than the county as a whole.

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#49. Saginaw, Michigan

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.4% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.1% - Total low-income workers in metro: 46,980

General Motors once operated eight plants in Saginaw and its surroundings but manufacturing jobs dropped 50% in the last 30 years, according to according to The Associated Press. The middle-class jobs drew African Americans from the South to what is now a racially divided area after many white families moved to the suburbs. When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut down the state in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants and hospitality industries suffered and experts said low-wage industries are likely to be the slowest to recover.

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#48. Sonora, California

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.4% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 7.8% - Total low-income workers in metro: 15,051

Once known as the “Queen of the Southern Mines,” and settled by miners from Sonora, Mexico, this city is in California’s Gold Country in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It is the county seat of Tuolumne County, where the unemployment rate was 7.8% in April 2021. Hotels, restaurants, and entertainment accounted for more than 60% of the jobs recovered over the year. Before the pandemic, Tuolumne had an unemployment rate of 5.9%, but lost jobs in the leisure and hospitality fields and information services during the state’s shutdown.

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#47. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.4% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.0% - Total low-income workers in metro: 3,250,729

The Los Angeles economy hemorrhaged jobs in the service sectors and the movie and film industry. ​​By March 2021, Los Angeles had recovered 64% of jobs lost during the first three months of the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Public Policy Institute of California. Unemployment remained high in the spring at 10.9%. Of the remaining job losses, 41% were in restaurants, accommodations, and arts and entertainment; Long Beach’s unemployment was 11.5%; and the Anaheim-Irvine area has recovered between 50% and 60% of its jobs.

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#46. Newport, Oregon

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.4% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.2% - Total low-income workers in metro: 13,463

In Oregon, nearly half of the jobs lost early in 2020 were in the leisure and hospitality industry, hindering services such as hair salons, repair shops, and private education. According to a report from the state’s employment department, titled Disparate Impacts of the Pandemic Recession in Oregon, the leisure and hospitality industry in particular employed more women, young people, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color than Oregon’s economy overall. A city on the water, Newport draws tourists to what The Oregonian described as “a great collision of odd attractions, natural beauty and classic qualities of the gritty Oregon coast.”

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#45. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, California

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.5% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 6.7% - Total low-income workers in metro: 879,745

Before the pandemic, the San Francisco Bay area had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. The accommodation and food services industry accounted for more than one-third of the net jobs lost and it had the lowest average weekly wage in 2019. Workers without a college degree were most at risk.

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#44. Fairbanks, Alaska

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.5% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 7.9% - Total low-income workers in metro: 20,440

Fairbanks saw its employment drop 7.9% and lost about 3,000 jobs in 2020, and the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development expects about a third of those jobs to be recovered. The arrival of F-35 jets at the Eielson Air Force Base has boosted its population, and a demand for goods and services is expected to help grocery stores, restaurants, and car dealerships as well as the construction and engineering industries. Since Fairbanks is close to Denali National Park, the city draws tourists on cruise ships, and the leisure and hospitality sector accounted for 40% of total job loss in 2020.

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#43. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, California

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.5% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 7.3% - Total low-income workers in metro: 746,510

Six months after the pandemic prompted California to announce a lockdown, 80% of jobs lost in the San Diego area were in the tourism, retail, and education sectors. Among young workers 16 to 24 years old who lost their jobs, two out of three worked in tourism. The same was true of 50% of Hispanic workers.

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#42. Napa, California

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.5% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 7.4% - Total low-income workers in metro: 33,365

Low-income workers, many of which immigrants, have lost jobs as coronavirus restrictions impeded restaurants, hotels, wineries, and vineyards. More than half of the farmworkers in California are undocumented, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Labor.

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#41. Ocean City, New Jersey

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.6% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.2% - Total low-income workers in metro: 22,311

Right on the Atlantic Ocean, Ocean City depends on tourism, which is a $6.9 billion industry. At the beginning of Summer 2021, businesses said they were struggling to find employees. Some were offering more than New Jersey’s $11 an hour minimum wage in the hopes of finding workers.

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#40. Mount Pleasant, Michigan

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.6% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.3% - Total low-income workers in metro: 14,359

Michigan had greater job loss in April 2020 than states in the Northeast or those dependent on tourism, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution. The state was already struggling with the loss of manufacturing jobs and a switch to a service economy. Even fewer opportunities existed for those without a college education or job in the automotive business.

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#39. Amsterdam, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.6% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.4% - Total low-income workers in metro: 12,026

Even before the pandemic, Amsterdam was working to revive its downtown. A $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award was directed to improving the waterfront along the Mohawk River and developing new businesses and restaurants. Like many upstate New York cities, Amsterdam once bustled with manufacturers but then faced a long decline.

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#38. Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.7% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.4% - Total low-income workers in metro: 8,799

The main source of revenue for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of the Chippewa Indians, the Kewadin Casinos operations, was closed for two fiscal quarters during the pandemic, according to Win Awenen Nisitotung, the tribe’s official newspaper. The result was a 70% loss in the $80 million annual payroll. The net revenue, $17 million annually, goes to support tribal operations. Another tourist attraction is the Soo Locks.

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#37. Gloversville, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.8% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.5% - Total low-income workers in metro: 14,192

True to its name, Gloversville was once home to a thriving leather tanning industry and glove manufacturers. Between 1889 and 1950, nearly all American gloves were made there, but it then experienced a steady industrial decline until 1990. It began developing its downtown in 2016 to attract people to the city’s center. The Adirondack State Park is nearby.

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#36. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.8% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 6.9% - Total low-income workers in metro: 1,074,755

About 40,000 residents of Boston became ill with COVID-19 during 2020, and about 1,000 people died. The pandemic made it even more difficult for some people to find work, including those who became ill, those who worried about getting the virus, and parents grappling with the closures of schools and child care centers. The industry hit the hardest was accommodations and food services, which lost about 25,000 jobs in 2020 (a 40% drop).

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#35. Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 9.9% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.1% - Total low-income workers in metro: 3,309

The seasonal economy of Martha’s Vineyard is heavily dependent on summer workers, and the first summer of the pandemic businesses shut down. Then, in April 2020, businesses were in a scramble to find employees. The Vineyard Gazette reported a confluence of the coronavirus pandemic, more difficulty in obtaining temporary work visas for foreign workers, and a housing crisis.

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#34. Truckee-Grass Valley, California

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.2% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.0% - Total low-income workers in metro: 20,604

The heart of California’s Gold Country, this area draws tourists everywhere to historic downtown Truckee to Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe National Forest to lakes, hiking trails, and other outdoor activities. Unemployment in the leisure and hospitality sector remained at 17% in December 2020, according to the California Employment Development Department. In May 2021, the unemployment rate as a whole for Nevada County was 5.6% and businesses were hiring.

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#33. Pittsfield, Massachusetts

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.2% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.6% - Total low-income workers in metro: 33,627

Berkshire County, a popular tourist area, had lost more than 6,000 jobs by April 2021, the majority of which were in the hospitality, restaurant, and retail industries. The region was projected to regain 74.1% of the jobs by the summer, but other jobs are likely to be lost permanently. Women and people of color were among the many who dropped out of the labor market or who are underemployed, Heather Boulger, the executive director of the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Development Board, wrote in The Berkshire Eagle. The group offers training, education, and help to find work.

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#32. Corning, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.3% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.6% - Total low-income workers in metro: 22,502

Corning Inc., formerly Corning Glass Works and creator of Pyrex and CorningWare, laid off about 560 local workers in May 2020 and reduced the salaries of the remaining 5,500 workers. Other cuts at the diesel plant in Erwin followed due to lower demand for catalytic converters as car and truck production was cut. One major tourist attraction is the Corning Museum of Glass.

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#31. Ogdensburg-Massena, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.3% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.8% - Total low-income workers in metro: 21,076

The communities along the St. Lawrence River in the northern part of the state were struggling before the coronavirus pandemic hit. ​​Massena was once home to factories for Alcoa, Reynolds, and General Motors, but most closed and hundreds of jobs were lost. Ogdensburg, in addition to low incomes and high unemployment, now faces a drug epidemic. Town officials are trying to revitalize the city with infrastructure improvements that could be funded by the bipartisan infrastructure plan in Congress.

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#30. Plattsburgh, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.5% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.8% - Total low-income workers in metro: 19,546

The city of Plattsburgh — residing on the northwestern shore of Lake Champlain and home to SUNY Plattsburgh, part of the state university system — was forced to lay off 61 employees in 2020. It was facing a $3 million budget gap. Revenue from sales tax and parking was also down, and it was expecting less state aid and fewer on-time property tax payments.

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#29. Hudson, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.5% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.0% - Total low-income workers in metro: 15,288

Columbia County, of which Hudson is the county seat, has rebounded since the depths of the pandemic, with the unemployment rate reaching 4.5% in June 2021. Although there were 1,500 vacant jobs in the area, up to 500 people remained unemployed — a discrepancy officials are still trying to address. The leisure and hospitality industry accounted for more than half of the jobs added in May 2021, though numbers were below their pre-pandemic level.

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#28. Oneonta, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.5% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.8% - Total low-income workers in metro: 14,219

The State University of New York (or SUNY Oneonta) is participating in an economic revitalization initiative called START-UP NY, intended to spur entrepreneurial efforts. New businesses can operate tax-free status if they open on land owned or leased by a state university or college or are within a mile of the university or college. The businesses will not pay corporate or sales taxes, and its employees will not pay any income tax for 10 years.

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#27. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.6% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.4% - Total low-income workers in metro: 49,252

Like all vacation destinations, Cape Cod was hit particularly hard by the pandemic and the resulting stay-at-home edicts. Workers in the leisure and hospitality industries were among the most affected across the country. The highest number of unemployment claims throughout the Cape came in the accommodation and food service areas. Barnstable Town is the largest community on the Cape.

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#26. Utica-Rome, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.7% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.1% - Total low-income workers in metro: 75,689

Like many upstate New York communities, this one has struggled. The population in the Utica metro area has dropped 10% since 1970 and employment levels have stagnated since the 1990s, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Metal production was a large part of the economy, but manufacturing employment has dropped by more than half in the last decades, replaced by jobs in health, education, and leisure and hospitality. A casino is now a major employer.

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#25. Watertown-Fort Drum, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.8% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.1% - Total low-income workers in metro: 22,691

Fort Drum remained a major economic pillar of the area’s economy throughout the pandemic. It brought $1.7 billion to the area in the form of payroll, purchases, and 5,500 off-base jobs to New York’s North Country. The U.S Army installation, ​​home of the10th Mountain Division and to 19,000 military and civilian workers, contributes 1.6% of the region’s gross domestic product.

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#24. Auburn, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.8% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.0% - Total low-income workers in metro: 19,898

The year before the pandemic struck, Auburn received a $10 million state award to help to revitalize its downtown. Auburn’s history includes developing hydroelectric power and agricultural mechanization and promoting abolitionism, women's rights, prison reform, and temperance. Among the projects planned included restoring a historic chapel and the Seward House Museum’s Carriage House and Barn and creating a recovery facility.

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#23. Rochester, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.8% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.1% - Total low-income workers in metro: 282,221

Rochester’s economy revolved around manufacturing companies such as Eastman Kodak Company, Bausch & Lomb, and Xerox, but those jobs have disappeared since the 1980s and were replaced by health care and higher education. The area has had little growth in either population or employment and in fact, as a result of the latest census, Rochester dropped from the third-largest city in the state to the fourth. The University of Rochester is now the region’s largest employer. It also is known for optics and imaging.

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#22. New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.8% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.0% - Total low-income workers in metro: 4,297,629

The uneven job losses the coronavirus brought were particularly evident in the New York City metro area, where most were in industries such as accommodation and residents. Tourism was virtually shut down. Wall Street thrived as professionals in finance and other fields were able to work from home. According to The City, Moody’s Analytics calculated that New York City’s employment losses were the worst of 82 metro areas it follows.

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#21. Batavia, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.9% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.2% - Total low-income workers in metro: 15,667

Just as the coronavirus pandemic began, Batavia had been using a $300,000 New York Main Street Grant to improve the interiors and exteriors of buildings in its Business Improvement District. The city has been trying to fill vacant and underutilized buildings. As was true elsewhere across the country, fewer people were looking for jobs in May as the economy reopened and employers began hiring.

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#20. Seneca Falls, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 10.9% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.4% - Total low-income workers in metro: 8,107

The first women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls in 1848, but in recent years, it has been trying to draw new businesses, help existing businesses survive, and expand tourism in this Finger Lakes town. Among its ideas was to target women specifically given the interest in women’s history. What was once the Seneca Knitting Mill on the canal in downtown Seneca Falls is now the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

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#19. Olean, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 11.0% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.5% - Total low-income workers in metro: 19,269

The Siemens Energy facility in North Olean announced in February 2021 that it would move production to other facilities, and lay off 430 blue-collar workers. Another 300 engineering and management jobs would remain. The move, the result of changes in energy markets, was a blow to a town where multiple generations of families worked at the facility.

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#18. Binghamton, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 11.0% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.3% - Total low-income workers in metro: 60,698

Binghamton, located in New York’s Southern Tier near the Pennsylvania border, has lost nearly 70% of its manufacturing base since 1990, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That’s one of the largest drops in the country. Education, health, and leisure and hospitality have replaced manufacturing, with Binghamton University being a strong economic center. Before the pandemic, the economy of the area had just begun to emerge from the Great Recession.

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#17. Malone, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 11.0% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.3% - Total low-income workers in metro: 10,911

Malone has three state prisons nearby and the jobs that come with them, but it also has a downtown with many empty and boarded buildings. North Country Public Radio noted that new businesses often move to the edge of town even as residents are trying to revitalize the downtown region. Malone was once part of a thriving industrial region until such companies as General Motors closed down in the area. A more recent complaint has been that tougher border enforcement has made it more difficult for Canadians to visit.

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#16. Elmira, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 11.0% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.1% - Total low-income workers in metro: 20,038

Elmira is another city in New York’s Southern Tier with a struggling economy that depended on manufacturing. The area has lost 10% of its employment since 1990, and half of its manufacturers. Unlike other upstate communities, Elmira has not seen growth in the education and health sectors, as noted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, nor has it been able to fill those jobs with growth in businesses or the leisure and hospitality sector.

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#15. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 11.1% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 8.8% - Total low-income workers in metro: 208,356

The economy of New York’s capital is dependent on government, education, health care, and now high-tech companies. Government accounts for about one-quarter of employment, according to Forbes. More than $9 billion has been invested in the city, including its downtown, which has $35 million in new residential units.

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#14. Jamestown-Dunkirk-Fredonia, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 11.2% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.6% - Total low-income workers in metro: 32,045

To help create jobs in western New York, the State University of New York at Fredonia has created a technology incubator, which offers services to start-ups. All job sectors in Chautauqua County lost jobs as a result of the pandemic, although the biggest losses were in businesses providing services.

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#13. Glens Falls, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 11.3% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.6% - Total low-income workers in metro: 33,904

Close to the Adirondack Mountains, Lake George, and ski resorts, Glens Falls has a successful leisure and hospitality sector, and before the Great Recession, employment had been growing. Health care had added jobs that made up for a loss in manufacturing, which is still important but had been cut in half since 1990, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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#12. Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 11.4% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 5.4% - Total low-income workers in metro: 151,996

Poughkeepsie, located in New York’s Dutchess County, struggled as other towns along the Hudson River revitalized. Beacon, Hudson, and Kingston bustled with new restaurants, stores, and other development after the Great Recession. Now, about $1 billion of development is occurring in Poughkeepsie, where Vassar Brothers Medical Center and Marist College are beginning a new medical school. A brewing company opened there in 2018, according to Chronogram.

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#11. Syracuse, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 11.4% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.5% - Total low-income workers in metro: 160,506

Syracuse has followed the path of many upstate New York cities, its manufacturing jobs giving way to those in health care. In Syracuse’s case, there has been little growth in population or employment in the last decades. Jobs at such companies as General Electric have been replaced by ones at Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University.

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#10. Cortland, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 11.5% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.5% - Total low-income workers in metro: 11,540

Cortland is in New York’s Southern Tier and it was once a manufacturing center. Wickwire Brothers, Inc., operated a factory making chicken wire, wire screening, window screens, and coal sieves, among other products. The 1890 House Museum, the home of Chester F. Wickwire, is now a tourist attraction. Today, like other communities, its economy reopened after the pandemic but businesses struggled to find workers. The hospitality industry was the hardest hit.

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#9. Atlantic City-Hammonton, New Jersey

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 11.6% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 10.0% - Total low-income workers in metro: 74,955

The coronavirus pandemic particularly affected the hospitality sector that is key to Atlantic City — restaurants, entertainment, and casinos. The city's nine casinos reported revenue dropped from $288.6 million in November 2019 to $260.86 million in November 2020. Online gambling was allowed to continue. Legislation aimed at helping New Jersey recover will give tax credits to developers and help companies moving to or expanding in the state.

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#8. Ithaca, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 11.7% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.5% - Total low-income workers in metro: 19,929

In Ithaca, a group of faculty from Cornell University is urging the city to learn from the pandemicand not to rebuild the way it was before. An unequal labor market meant that people of color were disproportionately vulnerable to layoffs and lower pay. Nearly 70% of Black workers make less than $15.37 an hour compared to 30% of white workers.

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#7. Buffalo-Cheektowaga, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 11.8% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 9.9% - Total low-income workers in metro: 299,157

Buffalo’s economy was once dominated by manufacturing, especially by steel factories and auto parts suppliers, but those jobs were lost and replaced by ones in the service industries. Manufacturing continues to provide a slightly above average share of jobs in the economy, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, but the area’s colleges and universities and health care industries have become more significant. Trade with Canada is also important, and the area has seen moderate job growth since the Great Recession, according to the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

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#6. Kingston, New York

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 12.4% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 10.2% - Total low-income workers in metro: 42,126

Job losses during the pandemic were mainly in the leisure and hospitality industries, but Hudson Valley’s real estate market stayed exceptionally strong because of interest from New York City residents looking for property. Those buying included young professionals looking for more space and those who drove up prices.

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#5. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 12.5% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 11.2% - Total low-income workers in metro: 574,781

Like other hospitality-centered areas, Las Vegas, with its casino industry, was hit with exceptionally high job losses. At the beginning of the year, it had the highest unemployment rateof the 51 largest cities in the country. A Brookings Institution report found that areas with economies like Las Vegas’ — those reliant on tourism and the movement of people — had higher unemployment at the end of 2020 than cities whose industries were based on the movement of information.

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#4. Hilo, Hawaii

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 16.9% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 16.4% - Total low-income workers in metro: 31,236

Hawaii’s tourism industry had the most job losses in the state. Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa Center on the Family found that the workers most affected were those already struggling to pay their bills and were earning low or very low wages. Hilo is on Hawaii island — where the economy is slightly more diversified than Maui and Kauai — and so unemployment numbers were not as high. Aquaculture is expanding.

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#3. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 18.2% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 16.4% - Total low-income workers in metro: 208,723

Those under 35 accounted for more than 40% of employees in the industries most affected by job losses, according to the report “COVID-19 and Job Loss, Who Are the Workers Most Affected in Hawaii,” from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Half of the workers in the retail trade and leisure and hospitality sector have either a high school diploma or less. More than half of employees in retail are women and Filipinos were overrepresented among the lowest-wage industries.

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#2. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 19.8% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 19.5% - Total low-income workers in metro: 51,693

In April 2021, the island of Maui began requiring people flying into Maui County from outside Hawaii to have a negative coronavirus test when they arrive at the Kahului Airport to avoid a mandatory quarantine. The regulation, in addition to a pre-travel test, was intended to determine the source of the high rate of coronavirus on the island. Maui and Kauai had the highest job losses in the state, making it difficult for tourism workers to stay.

Jeff Whyte // Shutterstock 51/51

#1. Kapaa, Hawaii

- Low-income job loss due to COVID-19: 20.2% - Total job loss due to COVID-19: 19.5% - Total low-income workers in metro: 19,035

In June 2021, the island of Kauai had the highest unemployment rate among the state’s counties. Eugene Tian, an economist for Hawaii's Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, told The Garden Island newspaper that the state’s economy is more dependent on tourists than Hawaii or Oahu. Researchers at the University of Hawaii are calling for a more diverse economy that would produce better paying jobs.


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