Places With the Most Jobs Impacted by Coronavirus

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The world has largely ground to a halt in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. While everyone is being forced to work within new limitations, some industries are getting hit harder than others.

MagnifyMoney looked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data on the food service, personal care and retail industries to determine where the most jobs are being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Workers in these occupations are particularly at risk as they tend to earn low wages and are typically unable to do their jobs remotely. With many states putting stay-at-home orders in place, this leaves many without income.

Key findings

  • Myrtle Beach, S.C., has the highest proportion of workers in the food preparation, personal care and retail industries. Approximately 33% of all workers in the metro area work in one of these three industries.
    • This includes about 30,190 workers in food service, 5,020 in personal care and 20,170 in retail.
  • At the other end of the list is the San Jose, Calif., area, where just 13.47% of the workforce is employed in the personal care, food preparation or retail industries.
    • Despite the nearly 20 percentage-point difference in comparison to Myrtle Beach, San Jose posts larger numbers of workers than the top-ranked city, with 84,570 workers in food service, 21,600 in personal care and 47,530 workers in retail.
  • Food service, personal care and retail workers in the New York City metro area, which ranked 345th, stand to lose a whopping $52.5 billion, which is the combined earnings of the three industries and represents about 8% of the total workforce’s income.
    • That $52.5 billion estimated loss is split among 1.5 million workers in the three industries, making this the largest workforce in our study. Using these figures, the estimated annual average income for a worker in one of these industries one is just over $33,000, which doesn’t leave much room for savings.
  • As seen with New York, bigger cities tend to rank lower, suggesting a more balanced economy that doesn’t rely so heavily on these three industries. Workers in the food service, personal care and retail industries make up between 15% and 18% of the workforce in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
    • After New York, Los Angeles workers stand to lose the next largest amount of income at $33.6 billion, split among over 1 million workers.
  • Across the metro areas analyzed, an average of 19.18% of the workforce was in food service, personal care or retail. On average, these workers’ wages made up just 11% of the total earnings.

Places with the most jobs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

Below are the 25 metros areas where the coronavirus outbreak is affecting the most jobs.

Myrtle Beach, S.C., is getting hit the hardest. A third of its workforce works in food service, personal care or retail, with the largest number in food service.

  • In total, workers could stand to lose $1.4 billion in income due to lost business. This is 21.60% of the total income of Myrtle Beach’s workforce.

Ranking second, the Daphne, Ala., area doesn’t fall far behind Myrtle Beach. Roughly 32% of Daphne’s workforce is in the three analyzed industries, which represent 21.50% of the total income in Daphne.

Kahului, Hawaii ranks third. Nearly 32% of its workforce is in food preparation, personal care and retail, the industries that are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus effects.

  • Together, workers in these industries earn just over a quarter (26.10%) of all workers’ earnings in the area, much of which may be lost now. This is the highest percentage among all 384 metro areas we looked at.

Among the top 25, Las Vegas has the highest number of workers in each of the three industries analyzed, with 151,120 workers in food service, 58,100 in personal care and 72,680 in retail.

  • Not only is the tourism-heavy city — ranked ninth overall — hurting due to halted travel, but the industries highlighted make up 27.64% of its workforce.
  • In terms of potential lost earnings, with thousands of workers now out of a job, workers in these three industries earn a combined $8 billion — about 17% of the metro area’s total earnings.

Places with the most jobs impacted by the coronavirus are highly concentrated in the East Coast and in the South.

  • Florida workers seem particularly at risk, with eight Florida metro areas in the top 25.

Places with the fewest jobs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

Places that have the smallest percentages of workers in the food service, personal care and retail industries are understandably the places with the fewest jobs impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. These are the 25 places with the fewest jobs affected by the pandemic.

San Jose has the smallest percentage of at-risk workers. Only 13.47% of San Jose’s entire workforce is in the food service, personal care or retail industries.

  • Food service is the larger of the three industries, with 84,570 workers in that industry, followed by 47,530 in retail and 21,600 in personal care. This is the largest workforce across these three industries in the bottom 25.
  • The total income among these industries in San Jose amounts to $5.4 billion — the highest income in our bottom 25. However, this accounts for only 5.60% of San Jose’s total income, perhaps offset by the earnings from the tech industry, which is prominent in this metro area.

Right above San Jose is Oshkosh, Wis., where food service, personal care and retail workers make up 13.48% of the workforce. There are a total of 12,790 workers across these three industries.

  • The total income across workers in these three industries totals $334.6 million, which makes up 7.30% of the total workforce’s income in Oshkosh.

In third-to-last place is Columbus, Ind., where food service, personal care and retail workers account for 13.54% of the metro area’s small workforce.

  • Columbus has one of the smallest workforces in the bottom 25, with only 500 personal care workers.
  • Workers in the analyzed industries earn about $175 million, which is 6.60% of the total workforce’s income.

Among the bottom 25, Lewiston, Maine, is the place where workers in food service, personal care and retail earn the highest percentage of total income at 9.20%.

  • The highest total income in our bottom 25 between these three industries, however, is in San Jose (mentioned above).

Wisconsin seems like a stable place to be. Six Wisconsin metro areas — Oshkosh, Wausau, Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay and Sheboygan — land in the bottom 25.

  • In these locations, the percentage of workers in the three analyzed industries make up between 13% to 16% of the total workforce.

The bottom 25 metro areas are relatively spread out throughout the country, although seemingly avoiding the most northern parts of the country. Interestingly, this region was also left out of the top 25, suggesting those areas fall somewhere in the middle with a more balanced workforce.


To rank the places with the most jobs impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, we analyzed 2019 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Specifically, we looked at the percentage of the workforce employed in personal care and service occupations; food preparation and serving occupations; and retail occupations. We then ranked the metros from highest to lowest based on the percentage of the workforce employed in these three industries.