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Press Release

Employment in many metros in Cleveland Fed’s region has yet to recover from the pandemic

Employment in most major metro areas nationwide has fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic — but not in the region served by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Seven of the eight largest metro areas in the region saw their employment levels drop from 2019 to 2022, according to a new Cleveland Fed report. Five of those metros landed in the bottom 20 when compared to the 100 largest metro areas in the nation. Pittsburgh was ranked last.

Employment Change, Q4, 2019 to Q4, 2022:
Pittsburgh, No. 100: -5.7%
Cleveland, No. 91: -3.6%
Dayton, No. 90: -3.1%
Akron, No. 85: -2.5%
Toledo, No. 83: -2.4%
Columbus, No. 58, -0.3%
Cincinnati, No. 55: -0.1%
Lexington, No. 40: +1.2%

While the pandemic has almost certainly affected where people and businesses locate, those changes don’t yet seem to have meaningfully reshaped regional differences in employment growth, says Guhan Venkatu, senior policy advisor in the Cleveland Fed’s regional analysis group.

Nationally, employment declines were more common among metro areas located in the northern part of the country, those with older populations, and those that saw weak employment growth before the pandemic.

These factors apply to many areas of the Fourth District region served by the Cleveland Fed, which includes Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

“This suggests that enduring structural factors, such as the ongoing migration of people to the South, have held employment growth back in the District,” Venkatu writes.

Read the District Data Brief: Many Major District Metro Areas Have Yet to Recover to Their Prepandemic Employment Levels

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Chuck Soder,, 216.672.2798