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The Cities That Have Lost the Most Jobs Over Two Years

A look at the 30 U.S. cities that had the largest percentage job loss over the past two years.

As the country emerges from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economy begins to recover, employment is creeping back up.

But as threats of the Delta variant of the coronavirus loom, workers who suffered through pandemic furloughs or job loss might be getting nervous. States like New York and California lifted most coronavirus restrictions mid-June, but within two weeks Los Angeles County was recommending everyone wear masks indoors again due to concerns of the Delta variant.

This list of cities that lost the most jobs in the past two years was compiled by AdvisorSmith, a business insurance research firm. Many of these cities are tourist or vacation destinations, or economies that may rely heavily on a local university. 

Other factors besides the pandemic, of course, may play a role: for example, Lake Charles, La., No. 2 on this list, was battered by two serious hurricanes in 2020.

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The biggest cities, New York and Los Angeles, lost the most jobs by sheer numbers, but many smaller cities that rely on leisure, hospitality and entertainment were hit hard percentage-wise. Two Hawaiian cities are among the hardest hit: the state’s tourism-dependent economy lost the most jobs—107,400— a reduction of 16.3%.

On the other hand, seaside resort Ocean City, N.J., which was devastated by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and reportedly one of the nation’s fastest shrinking cities in 2018, has enjoyed a resurgence, topping AdvisorSmith’s list of cities with the best job growth — 12% over the two-year period. Ocean City is one that has benefited from a surge in migration during the pandemic, as people relocated from crowded cities like New York to less densely populated regions, according to the Wall Street Journal.

To determine the cities that lost the most jobs in the past two years, AdvisorSmith examined U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data of 394 U.S. cities, from March 2019 through March 2021.

Here are the cities that lost the most jobs.