Cities Whose Unemployment Rates Are Having the Best Recovery – Updated WalletHub Study

The economy gained 559,000 jobs in May, and the national unemployment rate is now 5.8%, which is 61% below the peak of 14.8% 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 disclosed that it erroneously didn’t count some workers on temporary layoffs as unemployed. Therefore, the real unemployment rate may be around 5% higher than reported, and our report includes both the official rate and an “adjusted” rate based on this error.

Below, you can see highlights from the report, along with a WalletHub Q&A.

Most Recovered Cities
1. Manchester, NH 11. Charleston, SC
2. Nashua, NH 12. Rapid City, SD
3. Burlington, VT 13. Boise, ID
4. South Burlington, VT 14. Lexington-Fayette, KY
5. Lincoln, NE 15. Missoula, MT
6. Huntsville, AL 16. Louisville, KY
7. Omaha, NE 17. Nampa, ID
8. Salt Lake City, UT 18. West Valley City, UT
9. Sioux Falls, SD 19. Overland Park, KS
10. Billings, MT 20. Fargo, ND

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/cities-unemployment-rates/73647

WalletHub Q&A

How might summer travel impact unemployment?

“Summer travel should have a positive impact on unemployment. Around two-thirds of Americans plan to take a trip this summer, which should inject a lot of money into the travel, hospitality and entertainment industries, which have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “The more money that struggling industries receive, the more they can hire. Unfortunately, we won’t get an influx of money from nearly as many foreign travelers as usual due to the travel bans in place for most of Europe and several other regions. Interestingly, some of the countries that are banned actually have much lower COVID-19 incidence rates than other countries whose residents can enter the U.S.”

What do you make of the fact that the poverty rate in the U.S. recently reached the highest point since the start of the pandemic?

“Even though the U.S. poverty rate recently reached the highest point since the start of the pandemic due to high unemployment and the expiration of some unemployment benefits, this number should change soon. The estimate was taken before the American Rescue Plan went into effect, while people were still struggling with a lapse in key support measures for the unemployed,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Getting people back to work is key to fixing the high poverty rate, too, and as more people get vaccinated and the country continues to reopen, the unemployment rate will decline.”

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,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “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.”

Los Angeles has experienced the largest number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. How has the unemployment rate in Los Angeles been affected?

“Los Angeles has experienced a 104% increase in unemployment from January 2020 to May 2021,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “This is worse than the average increase of 51%. The overall unemployment rate in Los Angeles is 10.1%, compared to the average of 5.8%.”

The above Q&A is also provided in audio format and can be edited as needed.