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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. I had trouble getting my proof of self-employment to upload in secure file exchange and finally got it submitted by 12:06 am , 6 minutes late. What are the possibilities that they will deny it? I have received unemployment from March 2020 to some of Jan and some in Feb 2021. Most of Dec, Jan, Feb, March, & april were stopped for this proof of employment.
    Also, I see proof of Income as a 2nd issue but it is always on there. That was not on my TO DO list.
    I feel for u all on ID.ME…

    Anyone trying to reach UI, call their number, press 2 or 3 (questions abt filing a claim?) and then wait thru the message. At the end of it, u will be connected to a live person! I promise.. don’t push another button.. I’ve done it 4 times and it never failed.

    We lost our home, my ex took my child…. (kept her after a visit and called cps facilitating drama while the cops wouldn’t give her back without paperwork locked up in the court house..shut down for covid) I raised her by myself for 12 years & now she is with a violent alcoholic and parental alienating parent .. ….my dog, my 9-year sweet little best friend, was attacked, passing away 3 days later.. all in this time frame.
    But! It will all be ok. I have faith.

    Be grateful for your life and all that is in it today. What u dwell on daily will be your strength or weakness.
    Good luck to all of u.
    And thank you, Jeff, for responding out here. It is appreciated!
    Davulia S.

  2. I filed over two months ago. I have not received any information. My status says “pending resolution”. I have no way of contacting anyone. My position was eliminated at my job and I submitted the documentations online. I dont know what else I can do.

  3. I have been apply Ohio Pua unemployment since July 5th still pending issues. Upload what they ask for when ever I call says your case is in Adjudication. Very very frustrated, financially I am broke. Health issues. Waiting a long period.Don’t know what I will do ?

    1. Nafisa,

      I can understand your situation. There will be a delay considering the number of applications that are being processed. Please continue chasing the office/check your status online at regular intervals until payments normalize.

    2. Same here since Feb 2021 turned in all the documents still pending issues 3 months now. When you call they tell you to be patient. Pulling my hair out it’s so frustrating.

  4. I was receiving PUA unemployment. they made me file for a new claim in February. Now I am in adjudication even though I gave all the same information from my previous claim. Have been adjudication since February and I call and they say they will put in a ticket to have an Adjudicator call me. Nothing. I am wondering If I can go down to to Maryland Unemployment Office and demand that someone talk with me to release my claim for payment. It’s been 56 days. I read that they have a maximum of 45 days.

    1. Luis,

      Your adjudicator may be inundated with pending cases. Please continue to follow up (if you have the contact details) or consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

    2. t sounds just like mine only im disqualified yet actie every till sept 4th . they haven’t asked me for anything! i file then its disqualified yet im told im ok and have nothing to do bit wait for an answer? answer to what? they switched my program and all and asked me to provide proof for a claim that wa denied al eady back in 2018! deny me once and then again perhaps? lol idk

  5. My mom had unemployment in Florida. She just recently moved temporally to California with a sister since she needs assistance, and now the website is telling her she cannot do anything because she is register in another state. Can she keep filing unemployment in Florida, even if she is living and register now in another state? how is the process to change the unemployment? I tried calling and there is no answer. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie,

      Please ask your mother to consider transferring the UI benefits from FL to CA (details will be available on either of the websites). If there are benefits weeks left in the account, she will be able to claim them.

    1. Leatha,

      UI benefits are offered to claimants who lose employment involuntarily and be able to and available for work.

  6. I lived in ga in 2019 and move to florida in 2020 and work for the xmas months in nov-dec. I was told to do a combine wage claim. my question is which state do i file the claim in?

  7. I filed for pua in Ohio back in October 2020.My claim has been in ajudacatuon since 11/1/20.So 2 to 6 weeks is a total understatement! When I call.i am told to basically hurry up and wait some more.I have recently been redetermined and my claim is allowed.but I have one pending issue.How long is too long?

    1. Nicole,

      Unfortunately, nobody has an answer. There are perhaps thousands of pending applications. Please consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

  8. If you claim your weeks for unemployment and for the next 2 months you still have not received your money. Where can you go in volusia county to talk with a live person

      1. HI Jeff,
        I applied back in Dec 5th, 2020 and I haven’t received any correspondence, is there a local office that I can make an appt to make certain my claim is right.

        1. Adam,

          You can consider visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible (details will be available on the Unemployment Office’s website).

  9. On NYS DOL website, my claim is saying current yet the information is for my old claim with 0 days remaining despite receiving 2 weeks of payments on the new claim and I was able to certify last night. I haven’t received anything; no letters or emails.

  10. I was disqualified for UI benefits for not providing an ID and other forms of identification. How do I fix this?

        1. Gary,

          You may not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

    1. Hi Mike, I’m in NYS and was at the end of my BYE on 3/14, I was still certifying but wasn’t getting paid. I found out I had to file a new claim because my other was exhausted. I’m still waiting on approval. Maybe you have to file a new claim. I hope this helps.

  11. They say 2-6 weeks it’s more accurate to say 2-6 months; and when you call many of them are rude and unwilling to assist!

  12. someone needs to look into Sharon L. Anton gillette, wyo. or dickinson, nd she is a fraud and has done so many fraudulent things and please look into her

    1. Annette,

      Please report it to the Fraud Division of the Unemployment Office in your state. You can report on the website.

  13. I worked part time for thee years here in florida. I’m currently not working. I’m also retired and collects social security.
    My question is
    Am I qualified to file for unemployment ?

    1. Ruby,

      To be eligible, you’re required to have sufficient hours and earnings. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website.

  14. So adjudication takes 8 to 12 weeks. Oh okay, that explains why I havent received payment since July. That surely helps just like the rest of the information that you give. And by the way. What’s the NEW reason you can’t get through to the Call Center.

    1. Maria,
      I have gotten through to the call center (live agent) every time i’ve tried calling within the last 2 weeks. The number to a live agent (follow the prompts carefully) is (667)-207-6520. i have gotten through within 10 to 15 mins with each call i had made!

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