The Worst States to Be Unemployed

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5. Arizona
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 33% (9th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 24.9% (2nd lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 8.0% (15th highest)
> 1 yr. job growth: 2.0% (7th highest)

Arizona experienced 2% employment growth over the 12 months ending in June, a faster pace than all but a half dozen states. However, skilled job opportunities may be scarce, with three-quarters of all job openings in Arizona requiring only a high school diploma or less. The state also was unable to significantly reduce unemployment during the past year. From June 2012 to June 2013, the unemployment rate fell just 0.4 percentage points from 8.4% to 8.0%. Just one-third of jobless workers received unemployment insurance benefits during the 12 months ending with the first quarter of 2013, well below the 45% of the unemployed nationwide. Also, the average weekly benefit received was just $214, or less than 25% of the average weekly wage in the state, worse than in any other state except Louisiana.

Also Read: Ten Cities Where the Poor Can’t Get Rich

4. Alabama
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 32% (8th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 26.2% (6th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.5% (18th lowest)
> 1 yr. job growth: 1.2% (22nd lowest)

Alabama’s unemployment rate rate fell from 7.6% in June 2012 to 6.5% in June 2013. But despite these improvements, being unemployed likely is still very difficult for Alabama workers. Just 32% of unemployed job seekers received unemployment benefits, with these payments averaging just 26.2% of the average weekly wage, both among the lowest figures in the nation. Governor Robert Bentley has made reducing joblessness in the state a top priority and has pledged not to take any salary until the state’s unemployment rate reaches 5.2%.

3. Illinois
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 43% (25th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 32.1% (16th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 9.2% (2nd highest)
> 1 yr. job growth: 0.8% (12th lowest)

While the $987 in average weekly wages in Illinois was higher than all but six other states, the average unemployment benefit of about $317 was just the 17th highest in the nation. Illinois has struggled with job growth as well, with the number of nonfarm jobs growing just 0.8% between June 2012 and June 2013, well below the 1.7% growth across the country. The number of jobs in both the public sector and manufacturing industry, which both have a sizable presence in the state, actually decreased during that time. The Illinois unemployment rate of 9.2% in June was higher than that of any other state except for Nevada.

2. Louisiana
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 30% (tied-5th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 24.6% (the lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.0% (25th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.1% (19th lowest)

Jobless individuals in Louisiana should not expect generous unemployment insurance benefits. The average weekly payout in the state for the year ending in first quarter of 2013 was just $201, lower than any other state except for Mississippi. When taken as a percentage of the average weekly wage, Louisiana’s benefits become the stingiest in the country, paying out less than 25% of the average. Fortunately for those out of work, the unemployment rate was 7.0% as of June 2013, below the national rate, indicating less competition for jobs. However, the state is one of a minority where the unemployment rate actually rose from the previous year.

Also Read: The Best States to Be Unemployed

1. Tennessee
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 30% (tied-5th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 28.6% (9th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 8.5% (10th highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.2% (22nd lowest)

Tennessee is the worst state in the country to be unemployed. The average weekly unemployment insurance payout totaled just 28.6% of the average weekly wage, lower than all but eight other states. Meanwhile, just 30% of the unemployed received those benefits, also among the lowest in the country.The state enacted a new law in 2012 that required the unemployed to make “a reasonable effort to secure work” by demonstrating they have reached out to at least three employers per week. In addition, the law requires people receiving benefits to take any job offering 100% of prior wages in the first 13 weeks. After this, to continue receiving benefits they may not turn down any job offering 75% of past wages. By the 38th week of unemployment, this standard falls to 65% of past wages. The state’s unemployment rate of 8.5% in June 2013 was the 10th highest in the country and up from 8.2% in June 2012, despite a decline across the country.

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