The current economic downturn has ushered in an employment crisis of historic proportions. The U.S. unemployment rate jumped from its lowest level in over half a century to a high not seen since the Great Depression in a matter of only two months. Since mid-March, when the COVID-19 pandemic began taking an economic toll, Americans have filed a staggering 47.8 million initial jobless claims. And that does not include the millions more who are still employed but have had their hours reduced or wages cut.
All else being equal — the consequences of unemployment, while never desirable, vary in severity from state to state. Some parts of the country have relatively strong social safety nets, providing residents who are out of work access to a range of benefits with few restrictions. Additionally, the job market in some states has not been affected as severely as it has in others, suggesting that those who have been laid off have greater likelihood of returning to work soon.
Using data from the U.S. Department of Labor, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of measures related to a state’s job market and its unemployment insurance program to determine the best and worst states to be unemployed.
In recognition of the size and scope of the current crisis, the federal government took extraordinary measures to mitigate economic hardship. One such measure was providing qualified out-of-work Americans with an additional $600 per week on top of their standard benefits — a provision that, at the time of this writing, is set to expire at the end of July 2020. Here is a look at how federal funding failed to match each state’s COVID outbreak.
If this measure does expire, by August, millions of Americans could be living on standard unemployment benefits, which range greatly by state, and can be as little $212 per week on average.
Even with government protections, the current economic crisis is leaving many unable to afford housing. According to a U.S. Census Bureau survey conducted from July 2 to July 7, 2020, 25.3% of the adult population cannot afford their monthly rent or mortgage bill. In some states, missed housing payments are far more common. It may be no coincidence that many of these states are the same ones that offer little in the way of unemployment benefits. Here is a list of the states where missed rent or mortgage payments are piling up.
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