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Which States Have To Improve The Unemployment Insurance Benefits?

Updated : April 2nd, 2020

states with worst unemployment insurance benefits

If you have lost your job, don’t lose hope yet. You may be eligible for unemployment benefits, so ensure that you file a UI claim right away. The US government has expanded Unemployment Insurance eligibility criteria to deal with the coronavirus-induced joblessness. But what if you live in one of the states with the worst unemployment insurance benefits?

We will look into the states having the worst unemployment insurance system, at some length. We examine whether these states will be able to support their citizens with the present condition of UI benefits and what changes they will need to make ASAP. We consider data from the last quarter preceding the coronavirus-recession and the claims filed from March 15-21 to understand what needs to be done.

Overview of The States With The Worst Unemployment Insurance Benefits

The first criterion we are using to shortlist the worst states is the maximum benefit amount cap. We look at states that pay less than $300.

  • Florida
  • Tennessee
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Arizona
  • Alabama

Note that you may receive much less than the maximum Weekly Benefit Amount, based on your base period earnings. Without the additional weekly amount of $600 made available by the CARES Act, life in these states would have been harder in these trying times.

The claim numbers mentioned below are likely underestimates considering how many people were unable to get through to the system. Recipiency rates measure what proportion of jobless applicants actually received UI benefits.

Florida

The state saw 67,558 new claims filed last week. At 11% recipiency rate in the last quarter, the state ranks quite low in the number of people actually getting UI benefits, at 47. The Florida Labor Department has signed an agreement with the Federal government to implement the CARES Act. Hence it will need to fast track the processing of new claims and effectively implement the relaxed rules to reach all the unemployed who need benefits.

The largest number of claimants last quarter belonged to the Administration and Support/Waste Management and Remedial Services sector, which is badly affected now as well by the economic shutdown. Now that casual workers and the self-employed are eligible for UI benefits, it remains to be seen whether this sector will be the worst affected. 

Florida residents can get a maximum of $875 in UI benefits, not counting the one-time direct payment mandated by the Coronavirus Economic Security Act.

Tennessee

Tennessee ranks slightly better at 44, with a recipiency rate of 15%. With 36,394 new claims filed last week, the state has a slightly lower burden than Florida. 

 

In Tennessee, the largest share of UI claims came from former employees of the manufacturing sector, last quarter. Tennessee houses some automotive manufacturing plants which have slashed production. Guidelines have not yet come which would enable the self-employed to file for benefits. Tennessee residents can hope to get a maximum of $875 in UI benefits.

Louisiana

With an increase of 70,365 in claims filed in the last week, Louisiana is clearly in need of a massive scaling up of UI claims processing infrastructure and staff. The low recipiency rate of 10.9% indicates that the state will have to work quite hard to meet the needs of new claimants.

The sector with the most volatility in this state is construction, with the largest share of UI claimants last quarter. As the sector has a large proportion of contractual employees, it will be a significant contributor to unemployment, now. Those who qualify for maximum WBA in Louisiana can hope to get $847 at most.

Mississippi

This state has been fortunate so far to have only seen a rise in unemployment claims by 5,576. These numbers are likely to spike by next week. The state has also included people caring for a family member afflicted with COVID-19 or those whose care facilities are closed due to the pandemic.

Mississippi has among the lowest UI benefits and a worker can hope to get at maximum $835, adding in the $600 stipend. It also has the worst UI recipiency rate at only 9.2%, necessitating a huge effort from the government.

The most unstable industry in Mississippi appears to be the manufacturing sector with the largest number of UI claimants last quarter. This is likely to continue as the state’s backbone is this sector, which will now face a drop in demand besides shutdown.

Arizona

Arizona saw the filing of unemployment insurance claims jump by 25,424 last week. Its recipiency rate at 11.2% has room for improvement without which many unemployed people will hit poverty. The state is at 46, very close to the bottom in this respect. The sector giving the highest number of UI claimants has consistently been Administration and Support/Waste Management and Remedial Services, this past quarter. At $840 being the maximum UI benefit one can hope to get, the state will need to overhaul the system to meet the UI needs of the newly eligible claimants.

Alabama

While Alabama may offer a maximum unemployment benefit of only $255 which with the stipend will amount to $855, it got the best recipiency rate among these 6 states at 25.6%. It ranks in the middle of a list of all the American states. 

However, the Alabama legislature had passed a law to cut down the number of UI payments weeks to 14 from 26. They may need to abrogate this law if the economic slowdown takes a long time to recover.

The manufacturing sector in Alabama has thrown up the largest number of UI claimants last quarter. This one as well as the other major sector, tourism will most likely be hit badly.

Lessons for UI from GFC-2008

Compared to the Unemployment Insurance changes made to cope up with the 2008-10 financial crisis, the measures this time are broader. The amount of money paid out by the program will be known only once it’s all over, but the outlay is higher at the outset.

Back then the benefits were extended for 99 weeks, whereas this time it’s 39 weeks. But this is only the beginning. The benefits increase this time around is much higher, on the other hand. Compared to only $25 last decade, the weekly $600 dollars this time for four months, is a huge improvement.

UI claimants were also given a big health insurance subsidy. This time around the government is sponsoring health insurance costs, but mostly for COVID-19 related health issues. However, most employers furloughing people are still giving regular health insurance coverage for 2 months.

 

The US government will need to implement the Families First Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act at war footing to save the US economy from collapse and thus the lives of Americans. Not just these six worst unemployment insurance states, but all the states will have to ensure that the unemployed don’t fall through the cracks of the complicated UI systems.

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  1. So I have been getting ue for 6 months and on Oct 21 I had a fact finding issue found and cleared after taking a month, I got put on hold I got nothing no benefits nothing because I am on hold until cleared up and it was another month later in my favor, I’ve been without payment since Oct 21 since then I have been on HOLD, I am beyond pissed, I call every Fri I see the letter I received saying its in my favor that says I am Monetary Eligible-yet I still have 6 payments on hold. I call DEO and I talk, I beg and I get told “we are working on it”, the letter is in my favor I am poor not rich I am poor Why how do you people get away with this

  2. Hello

    I’m 59 years old and was laid off in March 2020 due to Covid.
    In June 2020 I was advised my job was eliminated and there is no chance of me
    Being brought back. I’m collecting UI since March.

    Pondering the thought of taking my early retirement pension as I can’t survive on
    UI any longer. My pension is of course reduced due to my age. Full pension is age 62.

    If I apply for early reduced pension in this situation, does my UI benefit get decreased? I’m in New York.
    I’m still looking for full time work. No luck.

    Thank you so much
    Lorraine

  3. i was just layed off from my job, i did collect benefits in pa. my job is seasonal igot unemployment payments in jan. to april i had 26 weeks of unemployment , but only used about 13 weeks, and was called back to work. i received 2 weeks of 600 dollars of stimlus money. my question is now that i reopened my 2020 claim . i,m i still elegibe for any more stimlus payments along with my regular unemployment payments.

  4. I am 65 yrs old in California and being layed off in Dec 2020. If I apply for unemployment benefits and collect a company pension, will the pension reduce the unemployment benefits ? If you answer call unemployment what is the department or do you have a phone number for a help line. I have called and get automated questions that do not apply to my situation.
    Cannot get to a live person.

  5. Several years ago I was part of a reduction in force and was early-retired for pension purposes. I count on this small pension ($2K/mo) to supplement my employment which has been inconsistent this past two years. I am filing for UI in IL and I qualify for it, but they are saying my pension reduces my UI benefit to zero. Is that right?

    1. Mike,

      That is partially right. The pension will have an impact on UI benefits. Please check for relevant info on the Unemployment Office’s website.

  6. I have $219.00 left on my UE and still no work due to covid-19 will i be able to get a extension on my UE and will it cover the last two weeks. I request payment tomorrow.

      1. My benefits have expired, still.unemployed due to over 65, wdiebrtes, high blood pressure and have one kidney, Can I get PUA , Cares Act for any assistance

  7. im working at a place i have been layed off from a lot in my career.i got 30 yrs in there so i can retire now but need another job to make it hoping to stay working and get more hours.If i take a new job and get layed off there I will BE DRAWING 1400 A MONTH FROM THE JOB I WORKED 30 YRS would i be able to draw unemployment if the new job lays me off and would it be reduced because of my retirement money of 1400 month.

  8. My bf was laid off in April he got the the 600 to start with now he is only getting the unemployment and no extra when we hear ppl getting 3 checks totaling 40k that might be lies but still that is bullshit.

  9. I Sharon Bland or Sharon Scott or Sharon Ann Mccraw
    Use my phone to claim two of my boyfriends and my own benefits. Is that ok ?

  10. I’m getting pua on employment and it was supposed to be backdated to May 27th when I wasn’t ableable to start my new job and somehow it’s August 24th they said it would be backdated been sending messages and pua people keep saying they have emailed you guys too but nobody gets back to me who do I need to contact about this thank you

  11. I check my checking account balance every week but I cannot tell if I am getting my 300.00 extra unemployment. Also. How can I tell if I got my back time unemployment .

    1. Thelma,

      I did not understand what you meant. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for precise answers to all your questions.

  12. I have exhausted my UI and all extensions. Not eligible for Fed Ed. Does EDD open a PUA claim for me. Or do I have to aoole for it. Its been past 30 days since receiving my Fed Ed denial letter.

  13. i have been unemployed for the whole year almost and since i have been trying to distance myself to better my all around health, it took me this long to file for benefits, i was hoping to get back pay all the way to the beginning.

    1. Zach,

      To qualify, the claimant is required to have sufficient earnings/employment during the “Base Period”. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website for more.

  14. Thank you o much for investigating this. When I received an overpayment statement and my benefits where stopped I felt my heart drop to my stomach. Already being evicted by a slumlord and now no income, i had to start working when i feel very at risk for getting the virus because of pre-existing conditions and the reason for filing in the first place. i am a cosmetologist and considered non-essential. I feel utterley hopeless and helpless in this situation.

  15. I cannot contact anyone in the unemployment offices because the phone hangs up on me in all cases after listening over and over the recorded message. I have called three numbers .

    I have received pandemic unemployment since March 31st. There was a pending adjudication but I never received any questions, letters nor emails about it and I was approved and paid. Now…this is what the website says:
    7 of 7 entries
    Issue Identification Number Employer Name Issue Type Status Date Mailed Level
    0002 7693 59-01
    PUA Pending 11/16/2020 Adjudication
    0002 4773 71-01
    Program Integrity Mailed 11/6/2020 Adjudicati
    Claimant Inbox
    Select the Search button to display your action items. To narrow your search, input issue date range below and select the Search button.
    Issue Date: From: To: 11/6/2020 to 11/16/2020
    Inbox
    • Below are the items that require your attention and that you need to take action on for your claim.
    • Select the Document ID
    I need this money to survive as others do while I am trying to re-establish any contract freelance work I am capable of doing….I report my small jobs as I get them but they do not come close to equaling my unemployment as of yet. Please tell me where I can go to find out what is needed here.

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