Best and Worst States to Be Unemployed

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The U.S. economy added 263,000 jobs in April, pushing the monthly unemployment rate down to 3.6% — the lowest level since 1969. The historic low is the result of 103 consecutive months of job growth, by far the longest stretch in American history.

While these figures tell an encouraging story, not everyone has benefitted from the record-breaking growth as more than 6.3 million Americans were unemployed as of 2018. In every corner of the country, unemployment is undesirable for any individual, often resulting in a reduced standard of living and necessitates drawing from savings and retirement accounts. It can even lead to poor health.

While every state has a social safety net to help those who lose their jobs or are laid off, the restrictiveness and generosity of these programs vary. As a result, the severity of the toll unemployment can take may depend on where one lives. 24/7 Wall St. created an index of various measures related to a state’s job market and its unemployment insurance program to determine the best and worst states to be unemployed.

State UI programs vary, and not everyone who is unemployed is eligible to receive benefits. Nationwide, 26% of unemployed Americans receive UI benefits. In the majority of the highest-ranking states on this list, the recipiency rate is far higher. Inclusivity is one measure of a state’s UI benefit efficacy, and over half of the best states to be unemployed in also rank among the best-run states in the country.

Unemployment is also less likely to last for a prolonged period of time in states with a healthy job market — states that are adding jobs and have low unemployment rates. Several of the state ranking as the worst places to be unemployed also happen to be some of the hardest states to find full-time work.

Click here to see the best states to be unemployed
Click here to see the worst states to be unemployed

To identify the best (and worst) states in which to be unemployed, 24/7 Wall St. generated a rank composed of four measures: the unemployment insurance (UI) recipiency rate, the average weekly benefit amount as a share of the average weekly wage, the unemployment rate, and the one-year job growth rate. Data on unemployment came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are for 2018. One-year job growth was calculated using annual employment figures for 2017 and 2018. Data on UI recipiency, income replacement, and UI benefit exhaustion — those who use up their benefits before finding a job — came from the U.S. Department of Labor and are for the 12 months ending Q3 2018.