Job Losses Continue Across Big Markets in May

Job losses continued for the second consecutive month across each of the nation’s largest 150 apartment markets.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. economy overall recouped some previously lost jobs in May. But gains during the month did not make up for the steep losses recorded in March and April, and all the nation’s large markets followed that pattern.

The list of markets with the steepest annual job losses during the current recession remained virtually unchanged from last month.

New York – the nation’s epicenter for the COVID-19 pandemic from March through May – saw the steepest declines in the nation, losing 1.3 million jobs in the year-ending May. While slightly improved from April’s loss of 1.4 million positions, this is still quite a change for the market, which was one of the nation’s leading job producers in the past decade and fell out of its long-standing reign in the top 10 list for economic gains in March.

Los Angeles and Chicago were still among the nation’s worst performers, losing roughly 600,000 jobs each in the year-ending May. Boston lost more than 456,000 jobs, while Philadelphia and Detroit saw declines of just over 400,000 positions. While these annual losses remain significant, Detroit has recovered nearly 90,000 jobs since April declines.

Among the nation’s bottom-ranking markets, Washington, DC was the only one to see worse declines in May than in April. This market lost over 317,000 jobs in the year-ending May, roughly 16,000 jobs more than the market lost in the year-ending April.

Minneapolis, Atlanta and Anaheim rounded out the nation’s worst performers, losing a little over 250,000 jobs each in the year-ending May.

Forty-three of the RealPage 150 markets lost at least 100,000 jobs in May’s report, while another 23 markets lost between 50,000 and 99,999 positions. Combined, the jobs lost in the 10 worst performances accounted for 27.5% of the total losses for the U.S.

The next 10 markets accounted for another 11.6% of total job losses, and this list includes several markets with higher than normal concentrations of leisure and hospitality employment such as Las Vegas, Orlando, San Diego, and San Francisco.

On the other hand, job losses were still relatively modest in university-based economies. College Station, TX declines were the mildest at roughly 4,300 jobs.

In virtually every market around the country, job losses were felt most keenly in the Leisure and Hospitality and Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (primarily retail trade) industries. Back in April, losses were felt most keenly in these industries, primarily restaurants, retail and personal services. The recovered jobs from May were in these same industries as phased re-openings began in many states. Still, it remains to be seen how sustainable the recovery will be if the re-opening of the economy causes a second wave of infections and further tightening of economic activity. Regardless, the severe job losses in the past few months at both the national and market levels will take at least a year to recede from the jobs statistics when calculating job change on an annual basis.

Overall, the BLS reports 17.8 million jobs were lost in the U.S. on an annual basis, an unprecedented downturn in the nation’s history, second only to the more than 19 million losses reported lost in the 12-months ending in April.

Initial claims for unemployment across the nation have cooled in recent weeks, but still exceeded past records. National unemployment also improved, to 13.3% in May, but also remains at historic lows.

According to the BLS, Las Vegas saw the steepest job loss percentage, with a 21.3% decline in the year-ending May. Other major metro divisions to make the list of the 10 worst areas for job loss as a percentage of total employment for May were Detroit and New York.

Two of the 10 worst markets for percentage job change exceeded losses of 20%, after eight markets exceeded that point in April. All of the worst markets for percent change exceeded losses of 18%, while 19 more markets had from 15% to 18% decreases in employment for the year-ending May 2020.

A few large markets did a little better than others in terms of relative losses. While Dallas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City experienced losses from 50,000 to 150,000 jobs, those cutbacks equated to downturns of less than 6%. Seeing the nation’s mildest declines of 2.5% to 3.5% were the college towns of Provo, UT and College Station, TX.