The data in this post are no longer updated. Published on June 4, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has very rapidly and alarmingly transformed the U.S. economy. The maps and chart below show the latest county-level unemployment numbers, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of September 30, 2020. See details in the methods section below.

County-level unemployment varies

Unemployment is not affecting communities or households equally. Black workers have been hit especially hard, magnifying racial inequalities in the American economy. More than half of lower-income adults lost their job or had their wages cut during the first three months of the pandemic compared to one-third of high-income adults.

Local governments’ ability to provide services such as public health, safety, and education will be stressed as communities navigate the pandemic’s reverberating fiscal effects and as the government workforce itself experiences layoffs.

Compare county-level unemployment in your state

Data sources and methods

Unemployment data are the latest available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics. The unemployment rate is defined as the percentage of unemployed people who are in the labor force, have actively been looking for work in the last four weeks, and are currently available for work. Reporting of county-level data may vary from state to state. For details, see Local Area Unemployment Statistics - Estimation Methodology.

These data are not seasonally adjusted. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical method used to remove expected seasonal fluctuations in employment due to regular events like holidays, school schedules, and harvests. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates are not calculated at the county level.

The unemployment metric understates the damage done to the economy by the pandemic because it does not count other measures of hardship, such as the number of people who are discouraged and have dropped out of the labor force. A broader measure of economic hardship, called the U-6, includes both the unemployment rate and a count of discouraged workers and part-time workers looking for full-time work. The U-6 includes those people who work part-time for economic reasons. It is not available at the county level.

Ray Rasker, Ph.D.

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Kelly Pohl