Atlantic City has been battered by hurricanes over the years, but it really took a beating during the 2020 pandemic recession, as employment declined by 16%. That loss puts it third among the top 10 metropolitan areas to shed jobs in 2020, according to the South Jersey Economic Review from the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University. The leisure and hospitality sector, meanwhile, saw an almost 35% decline in employment.
Only two U.S. metro areas saw steeper employment declines: Lake Charles, Louisiana (16%) and Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii (25%).
The COVID-19 recession was far more damaging to the leisure and hospitality sector than the Great Recession of 2007-2009. E-ZPass toll transactions at the Pleasantville toll plaza (leading to Atlantic City) declined from 20 million in 2019 to 14 million in 2020. Households receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits in Atlantic County jumped almost 31%, compared with 26% statewide.