14 Industries That Have Been Hit Hardest by the Pandemic

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Al Bello/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

Pandemic Meltdown

From massive layoffs and billions in lost revenue to bankruptcies and complete closures, the COVID-19 pandemic has left few industries unscathed, and the damage appears far from over. The number of infections nationwide is beginning to spike again and prompting further restrictions in many places — bad news for businesses, some of which were starting to show signs of recovery but continue to face a dark future. Here's a closer look at some of the industries most affected by the crisis.

Related: 10 Businesses Americans Will Avoid Even After They Reopen

Blocking Out Seats


One of the most visible victims of the pandemic, airlines across the globe have been forced to restructure or cease operations, while many others have slashed the number of routes they're flying. Carriers that have declared bankruptcy to date include Compass Airlines, Miami Air International, and Trans States Airlines. Outside the United States, the list is far longer and includes such well-known names as Virgin Australia, LATAM, Thai Airways, and Alitalia. For U.S. airlines, passenger volume as of June 21 was still about 80% below what it was a year ago, with domestic air travel down 78% and international travel suffering a staggering 96% drop.

Related: Major U.S. Airports With the Most Flights Canceled by COVID-19

Movie Theaters
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The Movies

Movie theaters have been closed, premieres scrapped, films shunted to streaming services, and festivals disrupted. According to Statista, the industry had lost about $7 billion as of mid-March and was on track to lose another $10 billion through April and May. Tentpole movie releases that have been pushed back include the James Bond flick "No Time to Die," Christopher Nolan's "Tenet," "Godzilla vs. Kong," and the superhero movies "Black Widow" and "Wonder Woman 1984."

Related: 14 Best Drive-In Movie Theaters in America Open During the Pandemic

Empty Stadium


Every aspect of the sporting industry has suffered because of COVID-19, from athletes and teams and leagues to the media that cover them, according to the World Economic Forum. Little League seasons have been scrapped, and the Summer Olympics have been pushed back a year. The loss of fan spending alone for sporting events in the United States totaled about $3.3 billion as of May, and the loss of youth sports tourism revenue was about $2.4 billion. Nearly 3 out of 4 Americans say they have no plans to attend a game until a coronavirus vaccine is developed.

Related: The Strangest Bets People Are Making During the Pandemic

Clothing Store Employee Wearing Mask
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Bankruptcy announcements continue to make headlines, with one well-known retailer after another foundering. Beloved home goods retailer Pier 1 declared bankruptcy months ago only to announce it would be shuttering altogether. GNC, Tuesday Morning, and JCPenney are just some of the other household names pummeled by the pandemic. One industry report says growth estimates for the global retail industry for 2020 have effectively been cut in half. The hardest-hit sectors are fashion, furniture, and electronics — all items consumers can do without in a downturn.

Related: 30 Things to Buy at JCPenney While You Still Can

restaurant takeout sign

Restaurants and Bars

In March, the National Restaurant Association sent a letter to President Donald Trump predicting the loss of as many as 7 million jobs from COVID-19 and an economic impact of at least $225 billion. We've seen restaurants shifting to takeout-only models or closing altogether. Full-service chains have taken the biggest hit, while many drive-throughs and pizza delivery services have managed to survive. Although many restaurants have reopened and offer outdoor dining or limited seating indoors, there's no denying these are bleak times for an industry that typically contributes about 4% of the country's GDP.

Hilton Hotel


It is not a pretty picture for hotels, either. As of June 24, nearly 6 out of 10 rooms were empty across the United States, on top of thousands of hotels that have shuttered entirely, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Since the pandemic hit in February, hotels have lost more than $38 billion in room revenue and are on track to lose as much as $400 million per day based on current trends. One more difficult statistic: About 70% of hotel employees have been laid off or furloughed, which translates to hotel workers losing more than $2.4 billion in earnings each week. Airbnb has been rocked as well, responding with attempts at longer-term stays and becoming housing for frontline workers.

Las Vegas Casino


All of the country's 465 commercial casinos and 508 of the tribal casinos closed in the early days of the coronavirus shutdown, a staggering 98% of U.S. gaming locations affecting some 649,000 workers. In Nevada, it meant billions of dollars a month in lost gambling revenue, and resulted in skyrocketing unemployment that at one point surpassed 28%. The industry is working toward recovery, and the American Gaming Association reported that, as of June 12, about 621 commercial and tribal casinos had reopened.

Related: How Much Household Spending Has Dropped During the Pandemic

There's 'Grade D' Meat Being Used Everywhere

Meat Processing and Production

Executives in meat production have said the pandemic may affect operations for months. Plants have been forced to revamp their floors entirely to provide room for physical distancing, and many workers have been required to stay home altogether. Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in May that among 130,000 workers at meat and poultry processing facilities in 19 states, there have been 4,913 cases of COVID-19 and 20 deaths. At Tyson Foods, the country's largest meat processor, the number of employees with the coronavirus skyrocketed had reached more than 7,000 as of June.

Related: How Much More Does Meat Cost Now?

Denver Center for the Performing Arts

Performing Arts

Cancellations and closings have swept across thousands of arts organizations, leaving two-thirds of the country's performers and others working in the arts now unemployed, according to Americans for the Arts. The financial losses to U.S. arts nonprofits are estimated at $5 billion, and that trickles down: Creative workers report as much as 95% income loss, with 62% fully unemployed. They expect to lose $51 billion in income this year.

Gym Membership
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The pandemic forced many gyms to reduce their footprints and furlough workers, or shut down altogether. Even as reopenings begin, many facilities are having to rethink their business models entirely, considering the many consumers who remain fearful of a second wave of infections. The industry, worth $94 billion in 2018, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, may lose those who got in the habit of at-home workouts such as weights, Peloton, or online classes when they couldn't go to the gym. Another reason gym members may not want to return: The coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets in the air, particularly in confined spaces.

Related: 15 Workouts That Don't Require Going to the Gym

roller coaster
commercial fishing
Dentistry and Cosmetic Surgery, Mexico


U.S. dental care spending may decline by as much as 38% this year, based on biweekly polls by the American Dental Association's Health Policy Institute. But the industry appears to be rebounding slowly, and 63% of practices were open but experiencing lower than normal patient volumes as of June 15. Unlike many other industries, dentistry shows signs of recovery.

Related: Essential Changes Non-Essential Businesses Are Making to Reopen

Black business owner
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Minority- and Women-Owned Small Businesses

A report from the National Bureau of Economic Research reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly challenging for small businesses run by people of color, women, and immigrants. While the number of active business owners in the country dropped 22% between February and April when the pandemic emerged, the impact of the downturn has been felt most severely by owners who are African American (41%), Latinx (32%), Asian (26%), immigrant (36%), and female (25%). One reason business owners from these demographics experienced more significant losses: Many operate in sectors hard hit by the pandemic such as restaurants, transportation, and hospitality.

Related: Black-Owned Stores to Support in (Almost) Every State