Special Report

The Best and Worst States to Be Unemployed

36. South Carolina
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
28.0% (tied–9th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 32.9% (tied–19th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.4% (tied–18th highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 2.5% (11th highest)

At 6.4%, South Carolina’s unemployment rate was roughly in line with the national rate. However, of those receiving unemployment insurance benefits, only 41.5% of South Carolina’s residents exhausted their benefits compared to 43.7% across the country. Similarly, South Carolina unemployment insurance claimants were able to find work in 12.6 weeks on average, four weeks less than the national average duration period.

37. Oklahoma
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
24.0% (tied–5th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 37.1% (21st highest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.5% (tied–11th lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 0.9% (10th lowest)

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate of 4.5% was lower than in most states. However, with only 24% of unemployed residents receiving insurance benefits, Oklahoma had one of the lowest recipiency rates. Furthermore, more than half of all recipients exhausted their benefits before finding a job, indicating that the available benefits may have been insufficient in addressing the needs of the state’s unemployed residents.

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38. Maryland
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
38.0% (19th highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 32.9% (tied–19th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.8% (tied–22nd lowest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.0% (16th lowest)

Maryland residents are wealthier than most Americans. This did not seem to make life much easier for unemployed residents. Unemployment insurance claimants received $327.34 per week on average, less than a third of the average weekly wage of employed residents. While the benefit amount was higher than the national figure, the proportion of the weekly wage it covered was lower than in most states. Claimants also spent more than 17 weeks without a job, and more than 45% exhausted their benefits — each among the larger figures in the country.

39. Kentucky
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
29.0% (tied–13th lowest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 37.5% (19th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.5% (tied–15th highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.6% (21st highest)

On average, Kentucky unemployment insurance claimants did not find their way out of unemployment for more than 21 weeks, the longest duration in the nation. And more than 45% exhausted their benefits, one of the higher percentages in the country. While Kentucky’s unemployment rate of 6.5% was only slightly higher than the national rate of 6.2%, the underemployment rate of 10.7% was lower than the comparable national rate of 11.6%.

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40. Rhode Island
> Pct. unemployed getting benefits:
35.0% (tied–22nd highest)
> Pct. average weekly wage covered: 38.6% (tied–16th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.7% (3rd highest)
> 1-yr. job growth: 1.2% (17th lowest)

The unemployment rate in Rhode Island was the third highest in the country. The state’s underemployment rate of 12.9% was also relatively high, 1.3 percentage points higher than the corresponding national rate. Though Rhode Island’s job market was tough, with both a relatively high unemployment rate and only a 1.2% job growth rate, the state was relatively generous to its unemployed. Those receiving unemployment insurance benefits took home an average of $347 per week, higher than the comparable wage figure in most states.

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