Special Report

The Best and Worst States to Be Unemployed

21. Massachusetts
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
46.0% (8th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 36.5% (tied–25th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.8% (tied–22nd lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.3% (25th lowest)

Massachusetts residents are wealthy compared to most Americans. The average weekly wage of $1,182.66 was the third highest nationwide. And while eligible unemployed state residents received just 36.5% of the typical weekly wage in benefits, the amount — $433.14 — was the highest nationwide.

22. California
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
43.0% (tied–14th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 27.5% (7th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.5% (4th highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 3.0% (4th highest)

Californian workers earned $1,095.70 per week on average, the fifth highest wage in the country. With unemployment benefits, however, jobless residents received just $299.67 per week, lower than the national average benefit. Last year, 7.5% of California’s workforce was unemployed, the fourth highest rate nationwide. When considering the underemployed — those working part time or that have given up on finding work — the state’s underemployment rate is nearly 15%, the second highest nationwide. Underemployed residents are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

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23. Texas
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
28.0% (tied–9th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 35.3% (tied–23rd lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.1% (16th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 2.9% (7th highest)

Texas had a relatively low unemployment rate and strong job growth rate from June 2013 to June 2014. However, living without a job may still be relatively difficult in the state. Just 28% of unemployed Texans received unemployment insurance — one of the lower such rates. Also, nearly half of recipients used up all benefits available to them, the sixth highest exhaustion rate nationwide, indicating many have exhausted their benefits before finding a job.

24. New York
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
47.0% (tied– 6th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 25.4% (4th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.3% (tied–20th highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.7% (19th highest)

The average weekly wage of New York’s workers was $1,214.11, the highest in the nation. Unemployment insurance recipients, however, received far lower benefits. At slightly more than $300 per week it was lower than the comparable national figure of $319.57. The relatively low payout could be partly related to the relatively long duration of the benefits of 19 weeks and to New York’s relatively high recipiency rate of 47% — often, the higher each of these are, the faster the state’s UI trust fund will be depleted.

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25. Delaware
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
43.0% (tied–14th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 24.6% (the lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.7% (tied–19th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 2.4% (13th highest)

The average job in Delaware paid more than $1,000 per week, a higher weekly wage than in all but a handful of states. However, unemployment insurance recipients reported an average benefit amount of less than one-quarter of the average weekly wage figure. While this was the lowest proportion nationwide, a typical unemployed worker in Delaware was able to receive benefits for more than 20 weeks, the second longest such duration after only Kentucky. In addition, with one of the higher recipiency rates in the country at 43%, jobless Delaware residents had a relatively strong chance of receiving unemployment insurance.

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