> Unemployment: 8.8% (20th highest)
> Total home vacancy: 12.4% (20th highest)
> State GDP per capita: $36,287 (14th lowest)
> Key reduction: benefit weeks reduced to 20
The number of weeks a person in Missouri can collect unemployment benefits changed from 26 to 20 in April of 2011. This change was tacked on to a bill that temporarily provided unemployed workers with an additional 20 weeks of benefits after they had exhausted state and emergency federal assistance. In defense of this trade off, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon stated that “thousands of Missouri families are struggling to make ends meet right now, and it was vital that we provide extended assistance to these families immediately.”
7. Rhode Island
> Unemployment: 10.8% (3rd highest)
> Total home vacancy: 10.7% (19th lowest)
> State GDP per capita: $41,816 (24th highest)
> Key reduction: benefits recalculated, payoffs now average $100 less
Rhode Island has silently crept up the unemployment rate ranks, and now has the third highest in the country, behind only California and Nevada. While the state is performing quite well, the massive unemployment rate has the potential to weigh heavily on the state’s budget, either in the short-term or the long-term. The state is attempting to reduce the effects in the short-term, at least, by adjusting the way benefit rates are calculated. NELP estimates that this reconfiguration of the system will reduce the average weekly benefits of residents by as much as $100. Workers will also have a longer period of ineligibility for benefits if they quit their job.
8. South Carolina
> Unemployment: 10.5% (5th highest)
> Total home vacancy: 15.7% (6th highest)
> State GDP per capita: $31,378 (2nd lowest)
> Key reduction: Benefit weeks reduced to 20
South Carolina’s unemployment rate is the fifth worst in the country, it also has the sixth worst home and rental vacancy in the country. These poor economic conditions indicate why the state has cut the number of weeks residents can collect unemployment benefits from 26 to 20. In addition to this, companies that operate for 36 weeks consecutively may be designated as seasonal employers, making it so that employees in the off-season not receive benefits. This 36 week period is the longest among all states.
> Unemployment: 7.6% (20th lowest)
> Total home vacancy: 13.1% (17th highest)
> State GDP per capita: $38,912 (19th lowest)
> Key reduction: Waiting a week before benefits
Beginning in January of 2012, there will be a waiting week for unemployed workers in Wisconsin looking to receive unemployment benefits. This means that, despite a person’s eligibility for benefits, they must wait one week before collecting any aid. Additionally, workers are considered to have “refused suitable work” if they test positive for drugs or refuse to take a drug test. This was passed as part of a bill signed by Governor Scott Walker, which makes another 13 weeks of federal unemployment benefits available to out of work Wisconsinites. Luckily for residents of the state, unemployment is at a relatively low 7.6%.
Douglas A. McIntyre, Michael B. Sauter, Charles B. Stockdale