The Best States to Be Unemployed

10. Kansas
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 44% (23rd highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 43.2% (4th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.8% (14th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.3% (tied for 24th highest)

Kansas residents received an average of nearly $334 a week in unemployment insurance in the 12 months ending with the first quarter of 2013. At 43.2% of the state’s average weekly wage, this was more than all but three other states. Also impressive, the state had a June unemployment rate of just 5.8%, while the national rate was 7.6%. However, Kansas has lagged behind the rest of the country in job growth in the past six months, growing payrolls by just 1.3% versus 1.7% nationwide. One of the major drags on the state’s economy has been Wichita’s aircraft industry, which has not recovered the jobs it cut during the recession.

9. Utah
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 31% (6th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 43.3% (3rd highest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.7% (8th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 2.2% (6th highest)

Unemployed Utahns entitled to benefits received more than 43% of their average weekly wages, higher than all other states except for Hawaii and North Dakota. Those finding themselves unemployed may have an easier time jumping back into the workforce as well. The unemployment rate in Utah was just 4.7% in June, the eighth lowest of all states. Between June 2012 and June 2013, there were 2.2% more nonfarm workers, a bigger increase than all but five other states.

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

8. Washington
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 45% (tied for 19th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 38.6% (15th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.8% (20th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 2.0% (tied for 7th highest)

Washington residents received fairly generous unemployment insurance benefits in the 12 months ending with the first quarter of 2013, averaging nearly $378 a week. This was equal to 38.6% of the state’s average weekly wage of just under $980 — among the highest in the nation — and was better than the 33% workers received nationally in benefits on average. The unemployed in Washington also faced a fairly strong job market, with employment growing at 2% in the past 12 months through June. The Seattle area has recovered the majority of jobs it lost during the recession, although much of the job growth and availability was limited to high-skilled workers with backgrounds in engineering and technology.

7. Vermont
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 48% (12th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 39.9% (10th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.4% (4th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.1% (19th lowest)

Vermont paid out a benefit of nearly $309 in the 12 months running through the first quarter of 2013. This comprised nearly 40% of average weekly wages, higher than the majority of states. The unemployment rate in Vermont as of June 2013 was just 4.4%, lower than all but three other states, although the number of nonfarm jobs rose only 1.1% between June 2012 and June 2013, lower than the 1.7% nationwide growth.

6. Idaho
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 47% (tied for 14th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 37.5% (18th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.4% (17th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 3.0% (the highest)

Idaho had the nation’s fastest nonfarm job growth of 3% between June 2012 and June 2013, which may help explain the state’s relatively low unemployment rate of 6.4%. Among the unemployed, a relatively high percentage received benefits. However, the state average weekly wages of just $681 was one of the lowest in the nation, compared to $923 nationally. Idaho had the highest percentage of workers earning minimum wage in the country, and in an interview with Idaho’s StateImpact, Mike Ferguson, the director of the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy noted that there was an ongoing “race to the bottom and we’re pretty darn close to winning.”

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