States About To Lose The Most Unemployment Insurance

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Last week, after years of partisan fighting, Congress approved a two-year budget deal. Not included in the measure were any plans to extend the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, which provides additional unemployment benefits for Americans who have exhausted their state-funded assistance. Should the program not be renewed, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that 1.3 million unemployed workers will lose access to aid before the New Year.

If the program is not restored, by the end of 2014 4.9 million Americans will not receive EUC benefits they would have otherwise qualified for. If this happens, a number of states will have more than 100,000 residents who will lose access to federal aid. In California, more than 800,000 people could lose these benefits. Based on CBPP figures, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 states with the most workers who stand to lose access to federal jobless benefits.

One of the most important factors influencing how many people could lose benefits within a state is the size of its population. In California, the nation’s most populous state with 38 million residents, more than 836,000 workers are expected to lose access to EUC benefits next year. Eight of the 10 most populous states are among the 10 states with the most people losing benefits due to the expiration of the EUC program.

Because of the weak job market across the U.S., “workers are simply exhausting their benefits before finding a job,” Claire McKenna, policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, noted in an interview with 24/7 Wall St. According to the most recent 12 month figures from the Employment and Training Administration, 45% of the unemployed had lost their state-provided unemployment insurance benefits. In Florida, where more than a quarter of a million people stand to lose access to EUC benefits in 2014, 73% of unemployed workers had already exhausted their eligibility for state-sponsored programs.

The portion of workers unemployed for long stretches — for 15 weeks or more — is especially high in many of the states expected to be hardest-hit by the loss of federal unemployment benefits. As of the third quarter of 2013, eight of the states with the most workers expected to be most impacted by the cuts were among the top third of states for unemployment of 15 weeks or more.

While more than a million Americans wait to hear if they will lose unemployment benefits come December 28, many of the nation’s unemployed have already lost the aid they depend on. Workers throughout the U.S. have had to contend with decreases in the benefits provided by federal programs. According to McKenna, the passage of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act last year, “led both to a phase out of the Extended Benefits program, and then it led to a phase down of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.”

These changes reduced the number of weeks workers could receive unemployment coverage. In all, according to NELP, between 2010 and the twelve months ending in September 2013, the average monthly number of unemployed workers not receiving benefits rose by almost 1.8 million.

In addition to cuts to federal programs, changes to state policies have also played a role in increasing the number of unemployed, uncovered workers. McKenna added that seven states have cut the length of their programs “from the decades-long standard of 26 weeks.” In six states, the average monthly number of uncovered, unemployed workers rose by more than 100,000 between 2010 and 2013.

Based on figures obtained from the CBPP, 24/7 Wall St. examined the 10 states with the most residents slated to lose access to EUC benefits in 2014. These figures include those who will lose benefits at the start of the year, as well as those who would have qualified had the program been continued in 2014. We also utilized data from the CBPP on the number of weeks unemployment benefits for workers are available in each state. Figures from NELP on state and federal benefit losses, based on averages from the 2010 calendar year and the 12 months ending in September 2013, were also used. In the article, the 12 months ending in September is referred to as simply “2013.” Additionally, we reviewed figures for state unemployment insurance programs from the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, as well as long-term unemployment and underemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These figures represent 12 months of data through the third quarter of 2013. BLS figures on unemployment and non-farm payrolls are for November and represent the most recent figures available.

These are the states about to lose the most unemployment insurance.