The 10 Worst Cities for Unemployment During COVID-19

A group of construction workers in face masks are unemployed because of COVID-19
Blue Planet Studio / Shutterstock.com

The U.S. unemployment rate rose nationally by 11.2 percentage points between February 2020 and April 2020, from 3.5% to 14.7%. While unemployment has risen throughout the country, compromising job security and savings for so many, some places have seen much larger spikes over that two-months period. SmartAsset looked at the metro areas where unemployment has increased the most during COVID-19.

In this study, we compared February 2020 and April 2020 unemployment rates for all 389 U.S. metro areas and found the percentage point increase in unemployment in each place. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the data and methodology section next.

Data and methodology

A man studies financial data at his computer
NicoElNino / Shutterstock.com

Data for this report comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment Survey. To find the metro areas where unemployment has increased the most during COVID-19, we calculated the percentage point increase in the unemployment rate between February 2020 and April 2020. We ranked metro areas from those with the largest percentage point increase in unemployment to those with the smallest.

10. Jackson, Michigan (tie)

A street level view of Jackson, Michigan
Rachel Goodhew / Shutterstock.com

The Jackson, Michigan, metro area saw a 21.0 percentage point increase in unemployment between February 2020 and April 2020. In February, fewer than 2,600 individuals in the area were jobless, while in April, close to 17,800 residents were unemployed.

10. Battle Creek, Michigan (tie)

An empty street in Battle Creek, Michigan
NCSchneider_Images / Shutterstock.com

In the Battle Creek, Michigan, metro area, unemployment increased by 21.0 percentage points during COVID-19 from February 2020 to April 2020. Some 12,621 individuals became jobless over that period.

9. Saginaw, Michigan

A street-level view of Saginaw, Michigan
ehrlif / Shutterstock.com

The Saginaw, Michigan, metro area had the 106th-highest February 2020 unemployment rate out of all 389 metro areas in the study, but the 11th-highest April 2020 unemployment rate. Over those two months, unemployment rose 21.2 percentage points from 4.4% to 25.6%.

8. Monroe, Michigan

An aerial view of Monroe, Michigan
Cozyartz Digital Media / Shutterstock.com

The Monroe, Michigan, metro area has the 10th-highest April 2020 unemployment rate in the country, but with a lower February 2020 rate, it saw the eighth-largest spike between the two months. In February 2020, unemployment in Monroe was at 3.4%. On June 3, the April 2020 unemployment rate was 25.8%.

7. Muskegon, Michigan

An aerial view of Muskegon, Michigan
Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock.com

Unemployment in the Muskegon, Michigan, metro area rose by 25.5 percentage points between February 2020 and April 2020. In February, there were about 2,900 unemployed workers, and in April, that number surpassed 23,100.

6. Flint, Michigan

A street-level view of Flint, Michigan
Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock.com

Flint, Michigan, is the fifth metro area in the study with an April 2020 unemployment rate exceeding 30%. Of the roughly 180,000 total workers in the labor force, close to 55,500 individuals were jobless, actively seeking work and available to take a job.

If you are unemployed and live in Michigan, be sure to apply for benefits. Michigan residents can apply for unemployment benefits here.

5. Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana

Indiana water mill
Susan from Denver / Shutterstock.com

In both February and March 2020, the unemployment rate in the Elkhart, Indiana, metro area was 2.7%. Over the course of a single month between March and April, the unemployment rate rose by 26.6 percentage points, signifying a gross increase of 30,350 unemployed persons between February and April.

4. Atlantic City-Hammonton, New Jersey

The boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey
Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock.com

The Atlantic City, New Jersey, metro area is a popular resort spot known for its casinos. Unemployment was previously high in the Atlantic City metro area relative to other places. It had the 19th-highest February 2020 unemployment rate in the study, at 6.4%. However, with unemployment increasing by 26.9 percentage points, the Atlantic City metro area’s most recent unemployment figure is now the fourth-highest in the U.S., at 33.3%.

3. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada

Las vegas in daylight
nito / Shutterstock.com

In our March 2020 study, we predicted that Nevada and large cities within the state were some of the places most likely to be affected by a COVID-19 recession. In line with that prognostication, unemployment in Nevada’s largest metro area, Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, has risen significantly. In February 2020, fewer than one in 20 workers was unemployed. In April, close to one in three workers in the metro area was unemployed.

2. Kokomo, Indiana

A COVID-19 study taking place in Kokomo, Indiana
Jerald LaOrange / Shutterstock.com

Located in the North Central region of Indiana, Kokomo ranks as the second metro area where unemployment has increased the most during COVID-19. Over the past two months, the unemployment rate in Kokomo rose by 30.3 percentage points, from 3.8% in February to 34.1% in April.

1. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii

An aerial view of Kahului, Hawaii
Claudine Van Massenhove / Shutterstock.com

Between February 2020 and April 2020, the unemployment rate in the Kahului, Hawaii, metro area rose the most of all 389 U.S. metro areas. In February, unemployment there was below the national average, at 2.7%. However, with travel and tourism industries largely grinding to a halt during the pandemic, unemployment in the Kahului metro area spiked up to 35.0% in April – the highest rate for this metric of any metro area in the study.

Tips for making it through a recession

Boost your emergency savings

Emergency fund
Ariya J / Shutterstock.com

One of the best ways to prepare for the unknown is by having an emergency fund. Though typical financial wisdom suggests you should have savings that can cover three months’ worth of expenses, six months’ may be a better figure to shoot for during a recession. Check out our budget calculator to see how much you spend each month, what sixth months of expenses would look like and how cutting back on discretionary expenses can increase your savings rate.

Know if you qualify for unemployment

Woman stressed at computer
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Many unemployment benefits across states have been expanded as a result of the spread of coronavirus. Our guide on the Enhanced Unemployment Benefits for Coronavirus can help you figure out if you may be eligible for receiving a benefit and how much that benefit will be. If you are looking for more general information on the coronavirus and what the government is doing to help, check out our comprehensive guide here.

Consider talking to a financial adviser

Couple with financial adviser
imtmphoto / Shutterstock.com

If you are nervous about your retirement account or what to do with money you are making, talking to a financial advisor might not be a bad idea. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

5 Ways to Put an End to Junk Mail
5 Ways to Put an End to Junk Mail

Here’s how to keep unwanted mail from clogging your mailbox and trash can.

17 Unusual Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher
17 Unusual Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher

Many everyday items do not require meticulous hand washing.

9 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Veterinary Care
9 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Veterinary Care

Medical care for your furry friends can be expensive. Here are some tips to take a bite out of vet bills.

Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

One type of food associated with the Mediterranean diet offers especially large benefits.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach
10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach

Does the pandemic have you reaching for bleach more than ever before? Learn the ins and outs of using this powerful disinfectant.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.