Special Report

The Best and Worst States to Be Unemployed

41. Indiana
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
28.0% (tied–9th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 30.8% (16th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.0% (25th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.8% (17th highest)

Less than 32% of unemployment insurance claimants in Indiana exhausted their benefits before finding a job, one of the lowest such percentages nationwide. In contrast, nearly 44% of recipients across the country exhausted their benefits. While the relatively low exhaustion rate suggests the state’s unemployment insurance system may be adequate for many residents trying to return to full employment, the state is still not especially favorable for the unemployed. For example, 28% of unemployed Indiana residents qualified for benefits, one of the lower recipiency rates. In addition, claimants recouped $253.93 per week in benefits, less than 31% the state’s average weekly wage — both among the lower figures nationwide.

42. Michigan
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
34.0% (tied–24th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 32.6% (18th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.3% (5th highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 2.1% (15th highest)

Beyond Michigan’s unemployment insurance system, which is not especially generous, the state’s job market is relatively weak. More than 7% of Michigan’s workforce was unemployed and 13.1% were underemployed, each the fifth highest rate nationwide. On the other hand, the state’s one-year job growth rate as of June last year was more than 2%, one of the higher growth rates. Job growth likely helped improve job prospects for job seekers. Unemployment insurance claimants spent just over 13 weeks collecting benefits, less time than most unemployed job seekers across the country.

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43. Illinois
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
37.0% (tied–20th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 32.3% (17th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.1% (7th highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.3% (18th lowest)

In Illinois, 37% of unemployed workers received unemployment benefits, more than most states and significantly higher than in the worst states to be unemployed. People in Illinois remained unemployed for a longer duration than in many other states. On average, it took an unemployed worker in Illinois nearly 18 weeks to find a job, the 10th longest period of time in the country. At 7.1% the unemployment rate in Illinois was the seventh highest in the country and almost a full percentage point higher than the rate nationwide.

44. Missouri
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
32.0% (tied–18th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 29.5% (12th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.1% (tied–23rd highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.0% (13th lowest)

Missouri residents receiving unemployment insurance benefits took home an average of $245 per week. This was the eighth lowest amount in the country and was about $574 less than the average weekly earnings for employed state residents. The money paid out for unemployment insurance is meant to ease financial hardship over a designated period of time while an individual finds work. However, the state’s annual job growth rate was just 1%. This may have contributed to the nearly 46% of unemployed Missouri residents receiving benefits who exhausted their coverage.

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45. Tennessee
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
23.0% (tied–3rd lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 27.6% (tied–8th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.7% (12th highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.9% (16th highest)

Tennessee had one of the least generous unemployment insurance systems. The average weekly benefit amount was $223.44, one of the lowest wage figures, and it covered less than 28% of the average weekly wage of employed residents. It was fairly uncommon to qualify for unemployment benefits in the first place, as just 23% of unemployed Tennessee workers received benefits, the third lowest recipiency rate nationwide. On the other hand, the state had relatively strong job growth, which increases the likelihood of job prospects for unemployed Tennesseans.

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