The Worst States to Be Unemployed

10. Mississippi
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 37% (18th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 28.8% (10th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 9.0% (3rd highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 2.5% (5th highest)

Unemployment insurance is not very generous in Mississippi when compared to most other states. The average weekly benefit was just $193, making Mississippi the only state to offer an average of less than $200. This only comprised 28.8% of weekly wages, lower than all but nine other states. In addition to having limited unemployment insurance benefits, Mississippi is struggling with high unemployment, which at 9% as of June 2013 was higher than every state except Nevada and Illinois. Between June 2012 and June 2013, nonfarm employment rose by just 0.3%, lower than all but three other states, while manufacturing, one of the state’s largest industries by employment shed jobs.

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9. Kentucky
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 38% (19th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 38.2% (17th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 8.4% (12th highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 0.8% (12th lowest)

In June 2012, Kentucky had an unemployment rate of 8.3%, barely above the national rate of 8.2%. The state also had a 1.9% increase in nonfarm employment from the year before, slightly faster than the national pace. But as of June 2013, job growth had slowed to just 0.8% over the year before. The unemployment rate was also higher, at 8.4%, than in the year before, even as the national rate fell to 7.6%. The job market has been especially difficult for workers in eastern Kentucky, where 4,000 mining jobs have been lost, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Senator Mitch McConnell recently published an editorial in the Louisville Courier-Journal critiquing President Obama’s environmental policy as “a war on Kentucky jobs.”

8. Florida
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 32% (8th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 28.5% (8th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.1% (22nd highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.7% (14th highest)

The $232 that Florida offers in average weekly unemployment benefits is lower than all but four other states. This average benefit comes out to just 28.5% of weekly wages, lower than all but a few other states. For a while, Florida made it more difficult than in other states to collect these benefits. The state enacted a law in 2011 that required unemployment recipients to take math, reading and research tests before receiving benefits. However, the U.S. Department of Labor nixed the plan in April over concerns that it may violate civil rights laws for the disabled and those for whom English is not their first language. The good news for those still out of work is that the unemployment rate, while one of the highest in the nation at the height of the economic downturn, now has fallen below the national rate.

7. Ohio
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 37% (18th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 37.2% (20th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.2% (21st highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 0.3% (4th lowest)

Between June of 2012 and 2013, the number of nonfarm jobs in Ohio rose by just 0.3%. The state’s unemployment rate also barely budged, falling from just 7.3% to 7.2%, higher than the majority of states, although below the national rate of 7.6%. Out-of-work individuals, on average, received unemployment insurance benefits covering 37.2% of the state’s average weekly wage, more than the 33% nationwide. But just 37% of all unemployed workers actually were able to receive these benefits, versus 45% across the country. Recently, two neighboring states, Indiana and Michigan, enacted “right to work” laws, which are designed to attract employers and prohibit unions from collecting payments by non-members at companies in which they operate. While such a law has not been passed in Ohio, unions remain concerned the issue could be brought up in their state.

6. Indiana
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits: 35% (12th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 34.3% (22nd lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 8.4% (12th highest)
> 1 yr. job growth: 1.4% (23rd highest)

In Indiana, the unemployed accounted for 8.4% of the labor force as of June, more than the 7.6% nationwide and unchanged from the year before. Only 35% of unemployed workers received benefits during the 12 months ending with the first quarter of 2013, versus 45% across the nation. Job growth also has slowed considerably, from 2.5% between June 2011 and June 2012, then the fourth highest rate in the nation, to 1.4% between June 2012 and June 2013. But not all job news out of the state is negative. Almost all the state’s job growth in June came from the manufacturing industry, according to the Indiana Department of Workplace Development. Indiana has a proportionally higher number of manufacturing jobs than any other state.

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