Special Report

The Best and Worst States to Be Unemployed

Thomas C. Frohlich, Sam Stebbins

11. Idaho
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
35.0% (tied– 22nd highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 39.0% (tied–12th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.8% (14th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 2.6% (9th highest)

At a rate of 2.6%, Idaho had one of the fastest growing job markets in the country. The relatively fast job growth rate reflects a healthy economy in which finding a job was likely less challenging. Less than 30% of Idaho’s unemployment insurance benefit recipients used up their benefits before finding work, the fourth lowest rate in the country.

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12. Nebraska
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
31.0% (tied– 16th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 36.8% (23rd highest)
> Unemployment rate: 3.3% (2nd lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.4% (23rd highest)

In Nebraska, the unemployment rate and the underemployment rate were each well below the corresponding national rates. Due to its relatively strong economy, an unemployed worker only remained unemployed for an average of 12.6 weeks, the fourth shortest amount of time out of all 50 states.

13. Pennsylvania
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
56.0% (3rd highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 38.6% (tied–16th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.8% (tied– 27th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.0% (12th lowest)

While the one-year job growth rate in Pennsylvania was relatively low, 56% of the state’s unemployed population qualified as claimants, the third highest rate behind New Jersey and Alaska. Those receiving benefits took home an average of $370.41 a week, the seventh highest such wage nationwide.

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14. Wyoming – Sam
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
33.0% (22nd lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 42.2% (6th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.3% (tied– 8th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.0% (15th lowest)

At an average of $360.15 per week — the eighth highest nationwide — unemployment insurance recipients in Wyoming took home $40.58 more than insurance recipients nationwide. Unemployment insurance recipients fared relatively well in Wyoming not only in dollar terms, but also relatively few exhausted their benefits before finding work. Wyoming’s benefit exhaustion rate of 34.7% was lower than the national rate of 43.7%.

15. Nevada
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
37.0% (tied– 20th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 36.7% (24th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.8% (tied– the highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 3.2% (3rd highest)

While Nevada was tied with Mississippi for the highest unemployment rate, it had the highest underemployment rate at 15.3% — 3.7 percentage points higher than the national rate. In April this year, the state’s estimated unemployment rate of 7.1% was the highest in the nation. Those receiving unemployment benefits in Nevada took home 36.7% of the average weekly wage in the state, roughly middle of the road compared to other states.