Economy   /   December 4, 2020   /   By Paul Bubny

Driven by Leisure and Hospitality Layoffs, Vegas and NYC Led Pandemic Job Losses

Just as certain demographic cohorts appear to be more vulnerable to COVID-19, so some metro areas—and job segments—have been hit harder economically by the pandemic.

Yardi Matrix reports that leisure and hospitality was by far the biggest employment sector loser, with 3.8 million jobs lost. As a case in point, Las Vegas led the 50 largest U.S. metros for the biggest percentage decline in overall employment since the pandemic began, as well as in leisure and hospitality’s share of job losses (57%). In contrast, just 1.8% of the jobs in financial services have been lost since the start of the pandemic.

Metros with the best job performance include those with relatively small leisure and hospitality industries and those that have lost relatively few jobs in the segment, according to Yardi Matrix’s report. Indianapolis, for example, lost only 6.5%.

One outlier among large metro areas, Austin, has added 8,200 professional and business services jobs and 7,300 financial services jobs since February.

While the size of a metro’s leisure and hospitality segment is a key in the extent of job losses, a more significant factor is how thoroughly the metro shut down to stop the spread of COVID. Few of the top 10 metros in the percentage of jobs lost since February are among the leaders in leisure and hospitality jobs, but all are at or above the average proportion of jobs lost in the segment.

New York City, for example, has a relatively small leisure and hospitality segment (9.8% of all jobs across the metro area). However, a whopping 42.3% of those jobs disappeared with the shutdown. In Oakland and San Francisco, leisure and hospitality job losses aggravated the region’s outmigration.

“Service workers that lost jobs can’t afford to live there anymore, and with companies largely allowing the option to work from home and entertainment venues closed, many others have left because they don’t see the point in paying high rents,” the report states.

However, the data provide hope for the gateway metros that have been hard hit, “because the core industries in those metros, such as finance and professional services, remain viable,” states the report. “Once a vaccine is available and people feel safe going back to entertainment venues, restaurants and the like, gateway cities (like New York, San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles) will have the ability to rebound.”

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