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Asheville metro among hardest hit in economy shutdown

With 28.4 percent of its workforce operating in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, the Asheville area is the ninth most severely impacted mid-size metro by the coronavirus shutdown, a study showed.


To find the locations with the workforces most impacted by COVID-19, researchers at the marketing company Volusion used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. The researchers ranked metro areas according to the share of workers employed in the retail trade and leisure and hospitality industries. Researchers also looked at the total number of retail trade workers, the total number of leisure and hospitality workers, the cost of living, and the percent of residents below the poverty level.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into cohorts based on population size. Small metros have 100,000 to 349,000 residents; midsize metros have 350,000 to 999,999 residents; and large metros have at least 1,000,000 residents.

Here is the summary of the data for the Asheville metro:

  • Share of employment in retail, leisure and hospitality: 28.4%
  • Total retail workers: 26,200
  • Total leisure and hospitality workers: 30,200
  • Cost of living: 7.4% below average
  • Percent below the poverty level: 10.5%

The analysis also found that 22.2 percent of North Carolina's working population operates in the retail trade and leisure and hospitality industries. North Carolina's workforce is experiencing an above average impact during the coronavirus pandemic.