Grand Rapids metro’s workforce experiences below average COVID-19 impact

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A recent report from Volusion showed Grand Rapids’ workforce is among the least impacted by COVID-19.

The analysis found that 17.4% of the Grand Rapids metro area’s workforce operates in the retail trade and leisure and hospitality industries, and the Grand Rapids-Kentwood metropolitan area’s workforce is experiencing a below-average impact during the pandemic.

COVID-19 has forced millions out of work, and the retail trade and leisure and hospitality sectors are among the hardest hit, according to the study.

Out of 53 large metros in the survey, Grand Rapids-Wyoming ranked No. 51. The Las Vegas, Nevada, metro ranked at the top of the list with 39% of its workforce in retail, leisure and hospitality, and the San Jose, California, metro ranked at the bottom with only 16.6% of its workforce in these industries.

The data for the Grand Rapids-Kentwood metro is as follows:

  • Share of employment in retail, leisure and hospitality: 17.4% (21.3% nationally)
  • Total retail workers: 48,600 (15,786,300 nationally)
  • Total leisure and hospitality workers: 49,800 (16,295,000 nationally)
  • Cost of living: 7.3% below average
  • Percent below the poverty level: 10% (13.1% nationally)

To determine the metros with workforces most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers at Volusion analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2019 Current Employment Survey (CES), the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s 2017 Regional Price Parity (RPP) dataset and the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey (ACS).

Using CES data, the researchers ranked metros according to the share of nonfarm employment in the retail trade and leisure and hospitality industries.

In the event of a tie, the metro with the larger number of retail, leisure and hospitality workers was ranked higher. The cost of living comes from the RPP dataset, and the percent of residents below the poverty level is from the ACS.

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