The Best (and Worst) States to Be Unemployed

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5. Vermont
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
41% (2nd highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered:
39.6% (11th highest)
> Unemployment rate:
3.3% (2nd lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth:
1.0% (21st lowest)

Vermont offered one of the best unemployment insurance benefits packages in the country. With a 41% recipiency rate in the 12 months through the first quarter of 2012, many of the people who applied for unemployment insurance received it. Of the people who received benefits, roughly 19% exhausted their benefits completely, fewer than in all other states and well below the nearly 44% exhaustion rate nationwide. Vermont’s job market has benefited tremendously from tourism, according to the BLS. Jobs in tourism grew 12% in the 24 months prior to April 2014. Collectively, as of April, nearly 35,000 of the roughly 307,000 jobs in Vermont were in the leisure and hospitality industries. As of April of this year, Vermont boasted the second lowest unemployment rate in the country, at just 3.3%.

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4. Hawaii
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
38% (tied-5th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered:
52.0% (the highest)
> Unemployment rate:
4.4% (8th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth:
1.0% (20th lowest)

Hawaii had the highest replacement rate in the country, covering 52% of unemployed workers’ previous average wages. Coupled with a 38% recipiency rate, tied for fifth highest nationwide, Hawaii had one of the most generous unemployment insurance programs in the country. Hawaii’s economy is supported by its services sector, which includes business services, hospitality, and health care. The services sector has experienced strong growth since the 2008 recession. While total job growth of 1% is below the national rate of 1.7% in the 12 months through April, strong job growth in the service sector helped sustain a low unemployment rate. However, Hawaii’s underemployment rate was the 13th highest in the country. This suggests that, while the state has been performing reasonably well, a significant portion of its population has been accepting less-than-ideal employment options.

3. Utah
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
25% (21st lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered:
43.9% (3rd highest)
> Unemployment rate:
3.8% (5th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth:
3.0% (5th highest)

Utah was one of the best states to be unemployed, in large part because of its high-performing job market. The state’s unemployment rate of 3.8% was fifth lowest, and its job growth in the last 12 months of 3% was fifth highest. Only a few sectors of the Utah economy had not exhibited robust growth in the 12 months ending April 2014. For the few people without jobs, nearly 44% of their average weekly income was replaced, the third highest recipiency rate in the country.

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2. Iowa
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
35% (10th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered:
43.6% (4th highest)
> Unemployment rate:
4.3% (7th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth
: 1.6% (19th highest)

Nonfarm job growth in Iowa was in line with the rest of the nation, at 1.6% in the 12 months through April. Despite this, Iowa had the the seventh lowest unemployment rate in the country, at just 4.3% as of April. For those workers who could not find a job, the state offered a relatively strong unemployment insurance program. According to the Department of Labor, 35% of unemployed workers received benefits in the most recently recorded 12 months, well above the 27% nationally. These benefits covered, on average, nearly 44% of the residents’ prior wages, a better replacement rate than all but three other states.

1. North Dakota
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
34% (13th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 45.1% (2nd highest)
> Unemployment rate:
2.6% (the lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth:
5.2% (the highest)

North Dakota was the best state in which to be unemployed. Not only did the state have a stable labor market, but it also had quite a generous uninsurance employment program. Unemployed residents received $407 each week in benefits, or 45% of average weekly income. This was the second highest replacement rate in the country. Indicating the vibrancy of North Dakota’s economy ,the state’s unemployment rate was just 2.6% in April, the lowest of any state. Additionally, the underemployment rate was 5.5%, also the nation’s lowest. All of these figures speak to the health of North Dakota’s job market, which grew at a nation-leading 5.2% in the year ending April 2014.

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