May 2021 State Job Metrics in a Recovering Pandemic Landscape

Yesterday this Blog discussed state employment metrics for May 2021.  See

Today the same metrics are presented but at the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) level.   While the U.S. has 392 MSAs, data are available for only 380 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) based on seasonally adjusted data which allows comparison of any month to another.  The BLS does revise these data from one-month to the next and also restates each year in the 1st quarter of the following year.

The first table shows the 40 MSAs with greatest job growth rate (or smallest loss) from February 2020 (the month prior to the pandemic) through May 2021 (latest data available).  Thus far, only 13 of the 380 MSAs with reported data have recovered all of the jobs lost (numerically) in the pandemic, with Idaho and Utah dominating the best performing MSAs.

The next table is the same data (February 2020 to May 2021), but shows the 40 worst performing MSAs.  California includes eight MSAs on the worst-performing list, but is also the largest state population-wise in the country with 26 metros across the state.  Hawaii has only two MSAs, both in the 40 worst performing metros.  New Mexico with four total MSAs included two in the worst performing group and Pennsylvania accounted for four (with a total of 18 metros in the state).

The percentage loss of jobs arising from the pandemic was a function of multiple factors including infection rates, the relative percentage of highly impacted employment sectors (such as Leisure & Hospitality) and those employment sectors deemed essential, and state and local mandated shut downs and restrictions.   All MSAs are different.  The next table shows the MSAs impacted the least at the onset of the pandemic, with the least percentage of jobs lost from February 2020 (pre-pandemic) to the trough.  Only one MSA, Logan, Utah-Idaho, lost less than 6 percent of all jobs at the onset of the pandemic.

The 40 MSAs with the greatest percentage of job losses are detailed in the next table.  Three MSAs, Atlantic City-Hammonton, Kahului-Lahaina and Elkhart-Goshen, lost  more than one-out of every three jobs in the initial stages of the pandemic.

The 40 MSAs that are missing the greatest total number of jobs (not percentage) are detailed in the next table.   The top 15 MSAs account for one-half of all the missing jobs in the country as of May 2021 with February 2020 as a baseline.

One-month growth rates are shown in the next table for the 40 MSAs with largest percentage gain in jobs from April to May 2021.

The next table is similar to the prior, but shows the 40 MSAs having the lowest one-month job growth from April to May 2021.

To examine a broad array of employment related data from the BLS click

Click here for a PDF featuring previously discussed employment metrics along with 12-month job growth rates is attached for all 380 MSAs with data available, sorted by state and MSA.

Many ongoing trends were accelerated during the pandemic including work-from-anywhere, e-commerce, and migrations trends exiting some MSAs and relocating to others. As well, new habits were created in the past 446 days since the commencement of the pandemic.  On average, a new habit takes place across 66 days, so there are likely many new habits that will survive, all impacting economic growth and ultimately jobs.  This pandemic is not yet finished and is likely that, at least job wise, the U.S. overall recovery is at least one if not several years distant.


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