Job Losses Hit Every Major Market in April

Job losses were widespread across the U.S. in April, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic spread.

Every one of the nation’s largest 150 apartment markets lost jobs in the year-ending April 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, after feeling some strains in March as the economy began to erode late in the month.

The national epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, New York saw a deep loss of 1.4 million jobs in the year-ending April. This is quite a change for this market, which has been one of the nation’s leading job producers for the past decade. In fact, New York fell out of its long-standing reign in the top 10 list for economic gains as recently as last month.

Three of the markets on April’s list of steepest job losses in the nation were still topping the U.S. for job gains in March. Last month, Los Angeles annual job gains topped 41,000 positions, but one month later, this market saw losses of nearly 660,000 jobs. Washington, DC went from gains of over 31,000 jobs in March to the loss of 301,000 in April. Atlanta was still creating jobs at an annual pace of more than 43,000 jobs in March, but April losses were at nearly 270,000 jobs.

The remaining markets with big job losses are some of the largest and most populous in the nation. Annual employment declines ranged from 270,000 to 610,000 jobs in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia and Minneapolis. Nassau County – located just East of New York City – also appeared on the list of greatest suffering markets in April.

Among the nation’s largest 150 apartment markets, job losses were felt the least in university-based economies like College Station, TX and Champaign-Urbana, IL, where the declines were mild at roughly 9,000 to 10,000 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.

April’s data indicates that almost 20 million jobs were lost across the U.S. in total, a devastating blow to the economy. As of March, only 38 of the 150 markets RealPage tracks experienced job losses and the U.S. overall was still showing gains of 1.5 million jobs.

Initial claims for unemployment across the nation have exceeded past records, totaling more than 38.6 million in the past nine weeks. Altogether, the U.S. economy has lost nearly twice as many jobs as were created since the end of the Great Recession. National unemployment hit 14.5% in April, but metro-level unemployment data has yet to be released. Nonetheless, we are anticipating at least double-digit unemployment rates for every market from 12% to 20% with some markets – like New York and Detroit – approaching 30%.

Due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, we can only speculate on how deep or how long this economic response will be. Combined, the jobs lost in the 10 worst affected markets accounted for 27% of the total losses for the U.S. overall. One-third of the RealPage 150 markets lost at least 100,000 jobs in April’s report.

The next 10 markets accounted for another 11% of total job losses, and this list includes several metros with higher than normal concentrations of Leisure and Hospitality employment such as Las Vegas, Orlando, Anaheim, and San Diego. Houston had the nation’s 11th worst job loss, exacerbated by the oil price collapse that occurred at about the same time as the pandemic.

According to the BLS, Detroit saw the steepest job loss percentage, with a 24.5% decline in the year-ending April. Other major metro divisions to make the list of the 10 worst areas for job loss as a percentage of total employment for April were Las Vegas, and New York. Michigan also accounted for four more of the 10 worst percent change markets in the past year.

Eight of the worst markets for percent change exceeded losses of 20% to the employment base, while 30 more markets had from 15% to 20% decreases in employment for the year-ending April 2020.

A few large markets did a little better than others in terms of relative losses. While Dallas, Phoenix, Denver, and Austin experienced losses from 100,000 to 250,000 jobs, those cutbacks equated to downturns of less than 10%. In fact, the Dallas job loss of 6.7% was only the fourth-smallest of the RealPage 150 markets. Seeing the nation’s mildest declines of 5.9% to 6.5% were Provo, Chattanooga and Palm Bay.