Which states have the highest unemployment benefits?
Currently, around 1.6 million workers in the United States are receiving unemployment benefits, with around 180,000 workers claiming benefits for the first time last week.
These figures are down significantly from 2020 and early 2021, when the pandemic led to a massive wave of layoffs.
Throughout the pandemic, Congress passed stimulus bills that increased the amount paid to workers receiving these benefits. However, in September 2021, those programs ended, and the regular amounts kicked back in.
Today, the highest average weekly unemployment benefits are distributed in Massachusetts ($645.52), Washington ($643.55), Hawaii ($583.49), New Jersey ($551.97), and Minnesota ($550.76). Even these benefits, which are on the high end of the spectrum, are a far cry from those given out during the pandemic. From March to June 2020, claimees would have seen a $600 bonus tacked onto their checks, nearly doubling the amount in most of these cases.
On Wednesday, when Federal Reserve Chairmen Jerome Powell announced a 0.25 percent increase in the federal funds rate, he said that the impacts of the central bank’s rate hikes remain to be seen. One of the impacts he and many economist expect to materialize over the coming months is an increase in the unemployment rate, which in January hit a historic low. An unemployment rate of 3.4 percent has not been seen in decades and could quickly fall from view. If the rate of workers without employment does begin to increase, laboradvocates would like to remind the public of the dismal unemployment insurance coverage offered to many workers. There are a total of six states and one territory where the average weekly benefit that is distributed to those in dire need of financial assistance does not even reach the equivalent of forty hours of work at the federal minimum wage of $7.25:
– Puerto Rico: $202.36
– Mississippi: $232.00
– Louisiana: $239.18
– Tennessee: $244.21
– Alabama: $250.00
– Florida: $255.54
– Missouri: $282.33.