The Most Unemployment You Can Get in Every State Since COVID-19

unemployed job seeker
Pressmaster / Shutterstock.com

Millions of Americans have rapidly gone from collecting paychecks to filing for unemployment payments. An unprecedented tens of millions of workers have filed for unemployment benefits since the coronavirus pandemic began.

How much will you receive while unemployed? There’s no single answer. A number of factors, like your paycheck, can come into play. Where you live can make a huge difference, since the maximum unemployment benefit can differ by tens of thousands of dollars from one state to another, according to a recent Zippia analysis.

The maximum benefit in the lowest-paying state is about $43,000, calculated annually, the analysis found. In the state with the biggest maximum unemployment checks, that figure is $74,000 annually.

Following is a look at the maximum annualized unemployment benefit a worker can receive in each state. We used numbers from Zippia — which reflect the extra $600 per week that Congress recently added to state unemployment benefits — as well as from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, WalletHub, the Tax Foundation and other sources.

50. Mississippi

Mississippi road sign
Peek Creative Collective / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $43,420

Zippia’s analysis puts Mississippi at the bottom of the list for maximum state unemployment benefits amid the COVID-19 crisis.

A 2019 analysis, by Howmuch.net, also found the state had the nation’s least generous maximum weekly unemployment insurance benefit, $235. We covered that story in “How Generous Are Unemployment Benefits in Your State?”

49. Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona
welcomia / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $43,680

Arizona ranked second-to-last in Zippia’s analysis of unemployment benefits. The state’s maximum annualized benefit is only $240 more than that of lowest-ranked Mississippi.

Arizona residents in the market for a new job might consider positions for setters, operators and tenders of multiple machine tools — essentially jobs working on more than one type of machine tool. The growth rate for these jobs, which are most common in the motor vehicle parts manufacturing industry, jumped 503% in Arizona from 2014 to 2018, as we report in “The Fastest-Growing Jobs in Every State.”

48. Louisiana

Alligator resting on a dock.
Terry Poche / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $44,044

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Louisiana had the nation’s highest rate of joblessness in March, the latest month for which the federal agency has released jobless rates. Louisiana’s unemployment rate was 6.9% that month.

The state also had the nation’s highest jobless rate increase from March 2019 to March 2020, an increase of 2.4 percentage points, from 4.5% to 6.9%.

45. Florida (3-way tie)

Jacksonville, Florida
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $45,500

Fortunately for Floridians, their state’s unemployment trust fund is one of the best-funded in the country. It held an estimated 90 weeks’ worth of unemployment benefits as of April, the Tax Foundation estimates.

Only one state, Wyoming, had a healthier unemployment trust fund than the Sunshine State in the foundation’s analysis.

45. Alabama (3-way tie)

Statue of Hank Williams in Montgomery, Alabama
JNix / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $45,500

From the first week of May 2019 and the first week of May 2020, Alabama saw the number of initial unemployment claims that it received increase by 979%, WalletHub reports.

As bad as that might sound, it puts Alabama in the middle of the pack compared with how other states fared during that same 12-month period.

45. Tennessee (3-way tie)

alexkich / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $45,500

Tennessee saw an increase of about 1,111% in the number of initial unemployment claims it received in the first full week of May 2020 compared with the first full week of May 2019, according to a WalletHub analysis.

That puts Tennessee roughly in the middle of the pack compared with how other states fared over that same 12-month period.

44. Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $47,840

Missouri lost 0.9% of its nonfarm payroll jobs between February and March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest state-level unemployment rate data.

Only two other states, Louisiana and Rhode Island, saw steeper declines in nonfarm payroll employment during that period of time, while Vermont also saw a 0.9% decline.

43. South Carolina

Bulls Island, South Carolina
makasana photo / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $48,152

South Carolina saw an increase of about 1,565% in the number of initial unemployment claims it received in the first full week of May 2020 compared with the first full week of May 2019, according to a WalletHub analysis.

That placed South Carolina among the 15 worst-off states based on how much claims increased over that 12-month span.

42. North Carolina

Woman at beach in North Carolina
iofoto / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $49,400

Fortunately for residents of North Carolina who are job hunting, a 2019 FlexJobs ranking puts the state among the top 10 for the number of remote jobs available, as we detail in “The 15 Best States for Remote Jobs in 2019.”

Cities there with the highest percentages of remote workers include Asheville, Charlotte and Raleigh.

41. Michigan

Detroit, Michigan
ehrlif / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $50,024

In mid-April, USA Today reported that about 21% of Michigan’s workers had applied for unemployment benefits in the prior four weeks.

They were among roughly 22 million Americans who filed for unemployment during that period during the coronavirus pandemic. That number of jobs lost is about equal to the 21.5 million jobs the U.S. gained after the Great Recession, USA Today says.

40. Georgia

African American men playing chess in Atlanta, Georgia
BluIz60 / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $50,180

Fortunately for job seekers in Georgia, the state ranks No. 8 in the nation for remote jobs, according to a 2019 FlexJobs analysis.

The most common types of remote work in the state include data entry, accounting and finance, and computer and IT work, says our report on this analysis.

38. Alaska (tie)

Alaska's Denali National Park
Martina Birnbaum / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $50,440

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest figures on state-level unemployment rates reveal that Alaska’s rate of 5.6% in March was a new low for the state since 1976, when the BLS began collecting the data.

That March rate for Alaska reflected a 0.2 percentage point decrease from February — the largest drop in the month-over-month jobless rate in the country, according to the BLS.

38. Wisconsin (tie)

family outdoors
David Prahl / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $50,440

Wisconsin residents searching for a new job might look for positions as operators and tenders of machines used for roasting, baking and drying food or tobacco. Such positions involve working on equipment like hearth ovens, roasters and kilns.

A 2019 analysis by SmartAsset found that the growth rate for those jobs jumped 458% from 2014 to 2018 in Wisconsin, as we reported in “The Fastest-Growing Jobs in Every State.”

37. Virginia

Arlington, Virginia
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $50,856

About 5% of Virginia’s workers clock into their jobs remotely, we reported in “The 15 Best States for Remote Jobs.” In fact, the state was found to be the fourth-best for remote workers.

The best bets for landing a remote job in Virginia were in fields like data entry, computer and IT work and legal occupations. Large Virginia employers hiring remote workers include Hilton (a hotel chain), the Commonwealth of Virginia (the state government) and Leidos (a science and technology company).

36. Indiana

Indiana water mill
Susan from Denver / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $51,480

The Hoosier State saw an increase of about 1,398% in the number of initial unemployment claims it received in the first full week of May 2020 compared with the first full week of May 2019, according to a WalletHub analysis.

That increase ranked Indiana among the 20 worst-off states based on how much claims increased during that 12-month span.

35. Delaware

train
Kelleher Photography / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $52,000

The unemployment rate in Delaware stood at 5.1% in March, the latest month for which state-level unemployment rates are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That rate was considerably higher than the nation’s jobless rate of 4.4% at that time.

34. South Dakota

Rapid City, South Dakota
Sopotnicki / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $52,728

South Dakota has an enviable 86 weeks’ worth of funding in its unemployment compensation trust fund to cover claims, an April analysis by the Tax Foundation noted. That makes South Dakota the third best-prepared state in the country for an influx of unemployment claims.

33. West Virginia

Man looking at mountains
Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $53,248

From the first week of May 2019 to the first week of May 2020, West Virginia saw a 682% increase in the number of initial unemployment claims filed at that point in the year.

As bad as that might sound, it puts West Virginia among the 15 best-off states based on how much initial unemployment claims increased during that 12-month span.

32. New Hampshire

Nashua, New Hampshire
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $53,404

New Hampshire enjoyed a fairly low unemployment rate — 2.6% — in March, according to the latest state-level unemployment rate data from the federal government. The national jobless rate at that time was 4.4%.

31. Maryland

Downtown Annapolis, Maryland
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $53,560

The fastest-growing job in Maryland — with a growth rate of 511% between 2014 and 2018 — has been the work of food scientists and technologists.

That field pays a median wage of $30 per hour, we reported recently. The work entails ensuring the safety of processed and packaged food — a task that is especially critical amid a pandemic.

30. Nebraska

Lincoln, Nebraska
Victor Wong / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $54,080

The hottest job in Nebraska recently? Parking lot attendant, with a growth rate of 490% between 2014 and 2018, as we reported in “The Fastest-Growing Jobs in Every State.”

29. Maine

fisherman sorting lobster
WoodysPhotos / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $54,340

In March, when the U.S. unemployment rate stood at 4.4%, Maine’s rate remained relatively good at 3.2%, according to the most recent state-level unemployment rate data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

28. Idaho

Idaho fly fishing
Kuznetcov_Konstantin / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $54,496

The number of initial unemployment claims filed in Idaho in the first week of May was 86% higher than the number of such claims filed in the first week of January, according to a recent WalletHub analysis.

Believe it or not, that was the smallest such increase of any state in the nation over the course of the first four months of the year: Every other state saw a steeper increase in claims during that period.

27. California

KK Stock / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $54,600

A recent analysis by the nonprofit Tax Foundation estimated that California’s state unemployment compensation trust fund only had enough money to pay benefits for 26 days, based on those who had applied for or were currently receiving jobless benefits.

The Golden State’s unemployment fund is in worse shape than any other U.S. state, the foundation reported, although others are perilously low on funds, too.

26. Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $54,652

Arkansas residents have one bit of good financial news: State income tax rates fell this year compared with 2019. The top tax rate on middle-income earners (total income $22,000-$79,300) dropped from 6% to 5.9% for taxes on 2020 income, to be filed next year.

Taxpayers with total income over $79,300 got a similar break, we report in “4 States Where Income Taxes Will Be Lower Next Year.”

25. Nevada

Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park
Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $55,588

Nevada’s unemployment shot up 2.7 percentage points in March compared with February, according to the most recent state-level unemployment rate data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That was the highest such increase in the nation for that period.

24. Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio
Pedro Gutierrez / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $56,160

Ohio has enough money put aside in its unemployment compensation trust fund to pay claims for only six weeks, according to a recent analysis by the nonprofit Tax Foundation.

Fortunately, Ohio found itself among “The 15 Best States for Remote Jobs in 2019.” With 4.3% of Ohio workers clocking in remotely, top job categories for telecommuters in that state were human resources and recruiting, data entry, and computer and information technology, a 2019 analysis by FlexJobs found.

23. Iowa

downtown Ames, Iowa
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $56,212

Iowa’s unemployment rate stood at 3.7% — well below the national average — when the Bureau of Labor Statistics checked in March, the most recent month for which the federal agency has released such data.

Unfortunately, that was higher than the 2.8% jobless rate Iowa was enjoying in February, just one month prior.

22. Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
Kristopher Kettner / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $56,368

Illinois workers took a big hit in March, when unemployment in the state leaped by 1.2 percentage points — from 3.4% to 4.6% — over February, according to the latest state-level unemployment rate data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fortunately, Illinois, whose remote workers comprise 4.9% of the state’s workforce, featured in “The 15 Best States for Remote Jobs in 2019,” ranking sixth in the U.S. Top jobs for distance workers in Illinois were in graphic design, data entry and accounting, and finance.

21. Kansas

Wichita, Kansas
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $56,576

Unemployment was at a nice, low 3.1% in March in Kansas, according to the latest state-level unemployment rates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national jobless rate was much higher, at 4.4%, at that time.

20. New York

pio3 / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $57,408

It will not comfort New Yorkers to know that a recent analysis by the Tax Foundation found the state had enough money set aside to pay unemployment benefits for only five weeks.

On a good note, remote workers make up 4.3% of the Empire State’s workforce, ranking it third among the states cited in “The 15 Best States for Remote Jobs in 2019.” Top job categories for remote workers were data entry, legal, and accounting and finance, a 2019 analysis by FlexJobs found.

19. Wyoming

Wyoming
By f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $57,616

Wyoming had a trust fund large enough to pay unemployment insurance for 321 weeks, a recent analysis by the nonprofit Tax Foundation revealed.

No other state came anywhere close to faring as well: The No. 2-ranked state, Florida, had enough to cover unemployment benefits for 90 weeks, the analysis found.

18. New Mexico

Mariachi player in Albuquerque, New Mexico
photoBeard / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $57,772

New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 5.9% in March, the latest month for which state-level unemployment rates are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That rate was up 1.1 percentage points from the prior month and higher than the national average of 4.4%.

17. Vermont

Syed Bilal Javaid / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $57,876

Vermont’s unemployment rate was 3.2% in March. That was well below the U.S. average, 4.4%, in the same month. And yet it was a big increase from Vermont’s 2.4% unemployment rate in February, BLS data show.

The state had, as of April 4, an unemployment compensation trust fund big enough to cover 45 weeks of jobless claims at the current rate. That made it the eighth-best funded unemployment plan in the nation.

16. Texas

Brenda McGee-Paap / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $58,292

A recent analysis by the nonprofit Tax Foundation estimated that Texas’ unemployment fund was likely to run out of money for paying benefits in just six weeks.

Only two states, California and New York, were worse off, according to the analysis.

15. Oklahoma

Oklahoma Route 66
Peek Creative Collective / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $59,228

Oklahoma residents searching for a new job might want to consider openings for psychiatric aides. That work is challenging and can involve restraining violent patients as well as leading recreational activities, transporting patients to exams and treatments, and carrying out other daily chores.

When Money Talks News looked at the fastest-growing jobs in every state recently, we found that demand for psychiatric aides in Oklahoma grew by a whopping 455% from 2014 to 2018.

13. Kentucky (tie)

Kentucky policy in parade
Roberto Galan / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $59,904

Between the first week of May 2019 and the first week of May 2020, Kentucky saw the number of initial unemployment claims that it received increase by a whopping 3,941%.

That was the third-steepest increase in the nation: Only Georgia and Connecticut saw steeper increases in claims during that 12-month period.

13. Montana (tie)

hiking
sunsinger / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $59,904

Between the first week of May 2019 and the first week of May 2020, Montana saw the number of initial unemployment claims that it received increase by 479%.

Believe it or not, that was the second-lowest such increase in the country: Only California saw a smaller growth in claims during that 12-month period.

12. Pennsylvania

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $60,944

Unemployment in Pennsylvania grew 1.9 percentage points in March compared with a year before — from 4.1% in 2019 to 6.0% in 2020, according to the latest state-level unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That was the third-highest increase of any state: Only Louisiana (2.4 percentage points) and Nevada (2.2 percentage points) saw steeper increases for that 12-month span.

11. Utah

mariakraynova / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $61,360

Between the first week of May 2019 and the first week of May 2020, Utah saw the number of initial unemployment claims increase by 673%.

As bad as that might sound, it put Utah among the 15 best-off states based on how much claims increased during that 12-month span.

10. Rhode Island

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $61,672

Between the first week of May 2019 and the first week of May 2020, Rhode Island saw the number of initial unemployment claims that it received increase by about 628%.

As bad as that might sound, it puts Rhode Island among the top 10 states in the nation based on how much claims increased during that 12-month period.

8. Colorado (tie)

Woman hiking in mountains
Larry Barrett / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $63,336

Colorado’s unemployment shot up 2 percentage points in the span of a single month, from 2.5% in February to 4.5% in March, according to the most recent state-level unemployment rates from the federal government.

That big jump took Colorado just past the national jobless rate for March, which was 4.4%.

8. North Dakota (tie)

North Dakota
ZakZeinert / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $63,336

The U.S. Department of Labor’s latest state-level unemployment rate report shows that North Dakota leads the nation with the lowest jobless rate for March — 2.2%.

That rate was unchanged from February, when the Peace Garden State also had the nation’s lowest jobless rate.

7. Minnesota

Minnesota State Fair
miker / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $64,480

Unemployment in Minnesota was 3.1% for March, well below the national rate for that month of 4.4%.

Helping keep the rate down is the fact that Minnesota has a larger share of remote workers than most — it placed No. 14 among “The 15 Best States for Remote Jobs in 2019.” The state has a telework policy and encourages flexible working arrangements to attract a skilled workforce — a policy that fortunately predates the coronavirus pandemic.

The greatest number of remote jobs in Minnesota are in the fields of data entry, accounting, engineering, and data and finance, the analysis shows.

5. Hawaii (tie)

Honolulu, Hawaii
MNStudio / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $64,896

Hawaii’s maximum annualized unemployment benefit of $64,896, according to Zippia, might sound good to many Americans. After all, it’s more than the median household income in the United States of $61,937.

But that benefit has to stretch pretty far, since Hawaii has the steepest cost of living of any state in the country, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. Housing costs are especially high in the Aloha State.

5. Oregon (tie)

Mount Hood
Linda Moon / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $64,896

The World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic on March 11.

From the week after that to the first week of May, Oregon saw the number of initial unemployment claims that it received shoot up by about 1,184%, a recent WalletHub study shows. Believe it or not, that was the smallest such increase of any state: Every other state saw a steeper increase in claims during that period.

4. Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $64,948

Between the first week of May 2019 and the first week of May 2020, Connecticut saw a far steeper increase in its number of initial unemployment claims than any other state in the nation, a recent WalletHub analysis shows. Claims spiked by 13,792% over that 12-month period.

3. New Jersey

mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $68,276

Remote workers have a solid place in New Jersey’s labor force, according to “The 15 Best States for Remote Jobs in 2019.” Some 4.4% of the workforce is remote, with data entry, legal work, HR and recruiting being the largest job categories for remote workers in this state.

2. Washington

Seattle, Washington
kwest / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $72,280

Zippia’s analysis ranks Washington No. 2 in the nation for its maximum state unemployment benefit amid the COVID-19 crisis.

A 2019 analysis, by Howmuch.net, found a similar result. As we reported in “How Generous Are Unemployment Benefits in Your State?,” the Howmuch.net study put Washington in first place for its maximum unemployment insurance benefit per week.

1. Massachusetts

Lighthouse in Massachusetts
Newcastle / Shutterstock.com

Maximum annualized unemployment: $73,996

A recent analysis by the Tax Foundation found that Massachusetts had just six weeks’ worth of funding on hand for paying its citizens’ unemployment claims.

Along with California, New York, Ohio and Texas, the Bay State was one of the worst-prepared states for a big surge in unemployment like the one that the pandemic created. According to the April report:

“Six states, which collectively account for over one-third of the U.S. population, are currently in a position to pay out fewer than 10 weeks of the unemployment compensation claims that have already come in since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — including those they’ve already begun to pay out.”

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