The COVID-19 Economic Vulnerability Index

The Vulnerability Index is a measurement of the negative impact that the coronavirus crisis can have on employment based upon a region’s mix of industries.

The map below displays the COVID-19 Economic Vulnerability Index for all counties and metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the United States. Click here to download the data.


What is the COVID-19 Economic Vulnerability Index

The Vulnerability Index is a measurement of the negative impact that the coronavirus crisis can have on employment based upon a region’s mix of industries. For example, accommodation and food services are projected to lose more jobs as a result of the coronavirus (over half of jobs lost, on average) compared to utilities and education services (with mild or no job contractions).

The average Vulnerability Index score is 100, representing 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.

The Vulnerability Index only measures the impact potential of a region related to the mix of industry employment. The index does not take into account variation due to a regions’ rate of virus infection, nor does it factor in local government’s policies in reaction to the virus. For example, a region with a high Vulnerability Index may have little to moderate job losses if the region has only slight infection rates and local government imposes few restrictions. On the other hand, a region with a low Vulnerability Index may still incur large employment losses if the local rate of infection is high or local government restrictions are especially stringent.


The index is based on a model of potential job losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, with the forecast updated on April 15, 2020. Expected employment losses at the 4-digit NAICS level were projected based upon inputs which include primary research on expert testimony; news reports for key industries; preliminary release of unemployment claims; and the latest job postings data from Chmura's RTI database.

The forecast model assumes employment in industries in each county/region would change at a similar rate as employment in national industries. The projection estimates that unemployment in the United States could increase by 22 million due to COVID-19, with over half of the jobs lost in hotels, food services, and entertainment industries. Contact Chmura for further details.

The Vulnerability Index projection model was developed by the Chmura economics team led by Dr. Christine Chmura and Dr. Xiaobing Shuai. The model leverages industry employment data as of 2019Q4 provided by JobsEQ. The prior iteration of projections used in the Vulnerability Index model were developed on March 23, 2020; future updates will be posted as changing conditions warrant.

Note that job losses referred to here are expected to be temporary for the length of the crisis. Consequential economic shocks are not incorporated into this model.

While the Vulnerability Index employment model is computed at the 4-digit NAICS level, forecast job losses at the higher 2-digit levels are shown below for reference.

Impact of Coronavirus
Average Projected Job Losses, United States
Accommodation and Food Services > 60%
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation > 60%
Other Services (except Public Administration) 10-25%
Transportation and Warehousing 10-25%
Retail Trade 10-25%
Wholesale Trade 10-25%
Information 10-25%
Manufacturing 5-10%
Construction 5-10%
Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction 5-10%
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing < 5%
Health Care and Social Assistance < 5%
Finance and Insurance < 5%
Educational Services < 5%
Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services < 5%
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting < 5%
Public Administration < 5%
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services < 5%
Management of Companies and Enterprises < 5%
Utilities < 5%
Active Military < 5%
Source: Chmura Economics & Analytics

COVID-19 Economic Vulnerability Index Data Download

These data are available for download in Excel format:


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Data used in this analysis and more are available in our platform, JobsEQ. Contact us now to learn more


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