Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their monthly jobs report and it took the policy and economics world by storm.  A survey of 78 economists predicted that the economy would lose another 7.5 million jobs; the most optimistic guess in the group was a loss of 800K jobs. 

In reality, the economy gained 2.5 million jobs.  The biggest driver of this gain was a massive employment turnaround in the Leisure & Hospitality sector which lost 7.5M jobs in April but actually gained 1.2 million jobs in May.

While the number of workers out of a job is still at a historically low level—13.3%—beating expectations by this much was undoubtedly a positive sign for the economy and the recovery from this pandemic.

From our seat, though, we were surprised no one saw this coming.  Since the pandemic began, we have made Homebase data public to help policymakers and our customers understand what is happening.  Our dataset tracks 60,000 Main Street businesses that were active at the beginning of March and looks at how many are open—and at what operating levels—every day since.  

If you look at the data, it’s easy to see a steady, if slow, recovery from the depths of the shutdowns in mid-April:

Lest you accuse us of drinking our own Kool-Aid and getting lucky, on Tuesday the St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve published findings validating that our data is, in fact, predictive of the jobs report since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Given this validation, we are publishing state- and city-level changes over the period May 1st to May 29th so you can see how Main Street in your region has been faring during what we all hope is the beginning of a permanent, and speedy, recovery.

First, some clarification about our data might be helpful:

  • This dataset is based on Homebase data for over 60,000 main street businesses and 1 million hourly employees active in the US in January 2020. All the rates compare that day vs. the median for that day of the week for the period Jan 4, 2020 – Jan 31, 2020.
  • “Employees working” is based on the distinct number of hourly workers with at least one clock-in.  I focus on that metric in this post as it most closely aligns with the spirit of the jobs report
  • We also make data on “Hours Worked” and “Businesses Open” available on our public data portal
  • Finally, some of the improvement numbers below may look shockingly high.  It’s important to remember that that’s a reflection of just how bad things got by the end of April.  As an illustrative example: If hours worked dropped to 50% of January levels by the end of April, and then improved by 50%, you’d still be at only 75% of January levels.  It’s going to take lots of months like May to get us anywhere near normal again.

Ok, now that all the fine print is out of the way, let’s dive in!

10 cities and states with biggest relative
improvement in Employees Working

State Percent growth during May End of May, relative to Jan ‘20 level
NH 102% -27%
VT 72% -38%
IN 61% -21%
WV 56% -27%
MI 56% -39%
KY 56% -27%
OH 53% -21%
CT 52% -41%
NV 51% -38%
WI 50% -14%
City Percent growth during May End of May, relative to Jan ‘20 level
Louisville 86% -23%
Cincinnati 57% -25%
St. Louis 55% -23%
Columbus 51% -18%
Miami 51% -40%
Boston 49% -49%
Jacksonville 49% -13%
Indianapolis 49% -25%
Nashville 48% -25%
Pittsburgh 48% -43%

 

10 cities and states with smallest relative
improvement in Employees Working

State Percent growth during May End of May, relative to Jan ‘20 level
MN 6% -39%
ND 14% -17%
UT 19% -5%
VA 23% -37%
NM 25% -34%
OK 26% -14%
IL 27% -42%
TX 28% -23%
WA 28% -34%
GA 29% -26%
City Percent growth during May End of May, relative to Jan ‘20 level
Minneapolis 0% -41%
Kansas City 2% -19%
Virginia Beach 20% -33%
Richmond 21% -39%
Portland 22% -42%
Dallas 25% -26%
Los Angeles 25% -40%
Washington DC 25% -45%
Salt Lake City 26% -22%
Houston 26% -28%

 

Full Employees Working results for all states

State Percent growth during May End of May, relative to Jan ‘20 level
AK 31% -14%
AL 36% -20%
AR 37% -23%
AZ 39% -27%
CA 30% -38%
CO 36% -23%
CT 52% -41%
DE 29% -29%
FL 46% -31%
GA 29% -26%
HI 40% -51%
IA 37% -10%
ID 30% -6%
IL 27% -42%
IN 61% -21%
KS 34% -5%
KY 56% -27%
LA 36% -36%
MA 47% -51%
MD 36% -34%
ME 38% -30%
MI 56% -39%
MN 6% -39%
MO 33% -14%
MS 35% -19%
MT 33% -9%
NC 42% -30%
ND 14% -17%
NE 29% -7%
NH 102% -27%
NJ 39% -42%
NM 25% -34%
NV 51% -38%
NY 37% -55%
OH 53% -21%
OK 26% -14%
OR 35% -33%
PA 38% -41%
RI 49% -33%
SC 41% -14%
SD 32% 20%
TN 38% -17%
TX 28% -23%
UT 19% -5%
VA 23% -37%
VT 72% -38%
WA 28% -34%
WI 50% -14%
WV 56% -27%
WY 42% -14%

Full Employees Working results for top cities represented in the data

City Percent growth during May End of May, relative to Jan ‘20 level
Atlanta 29% -29%
Austin 43% -17%
Baltimore 33% -34%
Birmingham 41% -25%
Boston 49% -49%
Buffalo 41% -42%
Charlotte 36% -29%
Chicago 29% -45%
Cincinnati 57% -25%
Cleveland 40% -28%
Columbus 51% -18%
Dallas 25% -26%
Denver 35% -31%
Detroit 34% -59%
Hartford 42% -41%
Houston 26% -28%
Indianapolis 49% -25%
Jacksonville 49% -13%
Kansas City 2% -19%
Las Vegas 45% -43%
Los Angeles 25% -40%
Louisville 86% -23%
Memphis 33% -10%
Miami 51% -40%
Milwaukee 37% -12%
Minneapolis 0% -41%
Nashville 48% -25%
New Orleans 39% -48%
New York 39% -58%
Oklahoma City 35% -16%
Orlando 47% -31%
Philadelphia 28% -47%
Phoenix 33% -27%
Pittsburgh 48% -43%
Portland 22% -42%
Providence 45% -34%
Raleigh 33% -31%
Richmond 21% -39%
Riverside 32% -28%
Sacramento 30% -35%
Salt Lake City 26% -22%
San Antonio 35% -22%
San Diego 35% -35%
San Francisco 29% -52%
San Jose 34% -36%
Seattle 27% -40%
St. Louis 55% -23%
Tampa 43% -24%
Virginia Beach 20% -33%
Washington DC 25% -45%

 

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