How Vulnerable is My Region's Economy to COVID-19?

The coronavirus outbreak is disrupting the U.S. economy and some regions will certainly be impacted more than others. The variation in impact will...

The coronavirus outbreak is disrupting the U.S. economy and some regions will certainly be impacted more than others. The variation in impact will not only be due to a region's exposure to the virus and the local government’s policies in reaction to the virus, but is also related to the mix of jobs in the local economy.

This latter aspect is captured in our COVID-19 Economic Vulnerability Index. The index gauges the negative impact the COVID-19 crisis can have on jobs in a region based upon the industries present in the area and their expected job losses. Accommodation and food services, for example, are projected to lose more jobs as a result of the coronavirus compared to utilities and healthcare.

An average Vulnerability Index score is 100, which represents the average job loss expected in the United States. Higher scores indicate the degree to which job losses may be greater—an index of 200, for example, means the rate of job loss can be twice as large as the national average. Conversely, an index of 50 would mean a possible job loss of half the national average.

Vulnerability Index, Highest Twenty MSAs
Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI 194.9
Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ 193.4
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV 178.9
Flagstaff, AZ 163.9
Ocean City, NJ 161.7
Norwich-New London, CT 157.8
Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC 155.5
Gulfport-Biloxi, MS 145.1
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 143.4
East Stroudsburg, PA 140.4
Brunswick, GA 138.9
Hilton Head Island-Bluffton, SC 136.0
Hot Springs, AR 135.8
Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL 135.4
Naples-Marco Island, FL 134.4
Santa Fe, NM 132.8
Urban Honolulu, HI 130.4
Barnstable Town, MA 129.4
Kokomo, IN 124.9
Salisbury, MD-DE 124.8
Source: Chmura Economics & Analytics

The metropolitan areas with the largest Vulnerability Index scores are Kahului, Atlantic City, and Las Vegas. This is not surprising given these regions’ heavy reliance on tourism-related industries. This is not to say these areas necessarily will have the highest job loss rate in the nation—other factors will come into play such as the rate of infection in the area as well as local and state policies. However, the mix of jobs in these metro areas do set them to be inordinately exposed to the type of job losses expected during the COVID-19 crisis.

Vulnerability Index, Lowest Twenty MSAs
Visalia, CA 86.0
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 85.9
Greeley, CO 85.5
Albany-Lebanon, OR 85.5
Dalton, GA 85.2
Merced, CA 84.9
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 84.7
Bakersfield, CA 84.5
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY 84.5
Durham-Chapel Hill, NC 84.4
Lewiston-Auburn, ME 84.3
El Centro, CA 84.3
Topeka, KS 83.6
Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ 83.6
Pine Bluff, AR 80.1
Midland, MI 75.3
Springfield, IL 73.1
California-Lexington Park, MD 72.3
Jefferson City, MO 70.6
Trenton-Princeton, NJ 70.1
Source: Chmura Economics & Analytics

Metro areas with less exposure have a mix of employers expected to sustain fewer job losses due to the coronavirus. Some have more government jobs (such as Trenton, NJ and Jefferson City, MO) while others have heavier-than-average employment concentrations in industries such as information technology, education, healthcare, utilities, and food production.

About the Data

More about the Vulnerability Index can be found here. Data for the nation can be viewed at this site on an interactive map at the county- or MSA-level. Data is also available for download.

Data for this blog was produced via our model as of March 23, 2020. Future updates will be posted as changing conditions warrant. The projection model used in the index was developed by the Chmura economics team led by Dr. Christine Chmura and Dr. Xiaobing Shuai. Industry employment data as of 2019Q4 were used for the model, provided by JobsEQ.

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