Special Report

The Best and Worst States to Be Unemployed

26. West Virginia
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
47.0% (tied–6th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 36.5% (tied–25th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.5% (tied–15th highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: -0.7% (the lowest)

While West Virginia’s unemployment rate of 6.5% was only slightly higher than the nation’s 6.2% rate, the state’s underemployment rate of nearly 13% was the ninth highest in the country. Many more underemployed people, including part-time workers and discouraged workers no longer seeking employment, are not eligible for unemployment insurance. It may also be more difficult to find a job in West Virginia than in many other states. The number of jobs in West Virginia fell slightly from June 2013 to June 2014, the worst job growth rate of any state.

27. Florida
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
26.0% (8th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 27.6% (tied–8th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.3% (tied–20th highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 3.0% (5th highest)

Eligible unemployed Floridians received $137.14 per week on average, less than half the national figure and the lowest weekly benefit amount in the nation. Just 26% of the state’s unemployed residents received benefits, the eighth lowest recipiency rate in the country. Of the people receiving benefits, nearly two-thirds exhausted them completely before finding a job, the highest exhaustion rate nationwide. Still, it may be easier to find jobs in Florida, as the number of jobs grew by 3% from June 2013 to June 2014, the fifth fastest growth rate nationwide.

ALSO READ: States Where Incomes Are Booming (or Not)

28. Arkansas
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
32.0% (tied–18th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 39.0% (tied–12th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.1% (tied–23rd highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.3% (21st lowest)

Arkansas was less generous to its unemployed workers than most other states. It was one of only seven states where the maximum time an individual could collect unemployment insurance was less than 26 weeks. For those collecting unemployment insurance, the average weekly benefit was $289.75, less than the national average benefit by almost $30.

29. Connecticut
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
52.0% (4th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 28.8% (11th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.6% (tied–13th highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 0.4% (3rd lowest)

At $1,199.72, Connecticut had the second highest average weekly wage in the country. However, the average unemployment insurance claimant received only 28.8% of this amount, the 11th lowest proportion in the nation. More than half of the state’s unemployed population received unemployment insurance, one of only four states where the recipiency rate exceeded 50%. Connecticut’s 6.6% unemployment rate was nearly half a percentage point higher than the national unemployment rate.

ALSO READ: The States With the Most (and Least) Divorces

30. Maine
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
35.0% (tied–22nd highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 38.8% (15th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.7% (tied–19th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 0.5% (4th lowest)

With a job growth rate of 0.5%, Maine’s labor market was not especially vibrant, and likely made finding a job more difficult for the state’s population looking for work. The job growth rate was the fourth lowest of all states and 1.4 percentage points lower than the national growth rate. Still, unemployed Maine residents spent less time looking for work than in the rest of the country. An unemployment insurance claimant in Maine collected benefits for an average of 14.9 weeks, nearly a full week less than the national average duration.

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