New York has lost more leisure and hospitality jobs than there are people in Wyoming

June 29, 2020, 11:00 PM UTC

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When states issued stay-at-home orders in March, jobs that involved face-to-face interacting with the public were among the first to go: Think bars, hotels, and theme parks.

The number of U.S. leisure and hospitality jobs is down 41% year over year in May, from 16.5 million in May 2019 to 9.8 million now. It is hands down America’s hardest-hit industry during the pandemic. But that economic blow is far from even when you delve into state-level data.

New York State saw both the most lives to lost to COVID-19, with 31,397 deaths, and the biggest decline in leisure and hospitality jobs. Between May 2019 to May 2020, the number of leisure and hospitality jobs in New York fell from 961,000 to 364,100, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That 596,900 drop, or –62.1% decline, is bigger than the 578,759 population of Wyoming.

The number of lost leisure and hospitality jobs in New York is so great that if they all returned, it would push the overall U.S. unemployment down from the current rate of 13.3% to 12.9%.

The second biggest decline was in Massachusetts, where leisure and hospitality jobs fell –59.9%. That was followed by the District of Columbia (–59.6%), Hawaii (–58.2%), and New Jersey (–55.4%).

The smallest decline in leisure and hospitality jobs was in Oklahoma, where they’re down –17.9% year over year in May. It is followed by Mississippi (–23.3%), Arkansas (–25.5%), Idaho (–26.1%) and Arizona (–26.5%)

It’s not all terrible news, though. As states began to reopen their economies, U.S. leisure and hospitality jobs rose 14.4% from April to May.

That trend, too, could reverse, however. With cases spiking in Southern and Western states, some states like Texas and Florida are pulling back on reopening plans.

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