This Is the Worst State If You're Out of Work Now

If you're one of the millions of Americans without a job right now, this is last place you want to be.

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This year has been brutal for millions of Americans. In addition to the life-threatening dangers of COVID-19, there's the economic damage that the virus has left in its wake. The pandemic has caused a huge portion of the country to be out of work, unsure how to make ends meet. In late May, almost 40 million Americans had claimed unemployment benefits. And according to a September survey from the Pew Research Center, half of Americans who lost their job during the pandemic have yet to find another one. But while COVID itself doesn't discriminate based on geography, the experience of being out of work does vary significantly from one state to another. And there is one state that's definitively the worst when it comes to unemployment. Read on to find out which one, and for the states you should be considering, check out The State Where You Can Make the Most Money.

To help figure out which states are the least kind to those out of work, we crunched the numbers to determine an Out of Work Index score for every state in the union. We factored in the unemployment rate for each state as of August 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which not only reflects how hard hit a particular state is, but how much more competitive that makes the job market for those already out of work. The Out of Work Index also includes the maximum weekly unemployment benefits and maximum weeks of unemployment benefits each state provides (not including the extensions and additions provided by the CARES Act). We also looked at the cost of living in each state, based on the latest numbers from World Population Review, which takes into account the variable costs of utilities, housing, and transportation from one state to another. This Cost of Living Index provides the percentage difference in the cost of living between each state versus the U.S. average, which is represented by 100.

Together, the numbers point to one state where it's particularly difficult to be unemployed. This state has a high unemployment rate and its unemployment benefits are so stingy that it moved to the front of the pack compared to the rest of the county. According to the numbers, these are the 20 toughest states to be without a job right now, counting down to the absolute worst. And for more on how your money translates differently in each state, check out This Is the State Where Your Money Is Worth the Least.

20
West Virginia

Panorama of WVU Coliseum Arena and campus of West Virginia University with river Monongahela in Morgantown, West Virginia
iStock

Unemployment Rate: 8.9

Cost of Living Index: 91.1

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $424

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 26

Out of Work Index: 63.58

And for better news for West Virginia, find it among The Only States Beating COVID Right Now

19
Arkansas

arkansas river in little rock arkansas
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Unemployment Rate: 7.4

Cost of Living Index: 86.9

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $451

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 20

Out of Work Index: 64.00

18
Hawaii

honolulu, hawaii skyline with buildings and palm trees
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Unemployment Rate: 12.5

Cost of Living Index: 192.9

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $648

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 26

Out of Work Index: 67.23

And if you want to know more about the Aloha State, check out What People Living in Hawaii Wish You Knew.

17
Delaware

Saturated early morning light hits the buildings and architecture of downtown Wilmington Delaware
iStock

Unemployment Rate: 8.9

Cost of Living Index: 108.1

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $400

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 26

Out of Work Index: 68.03

16
Alabama

birmingham alabama
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Unemployment Rate: 5.6

Cost of Living Index: 89.3

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $275

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 26

Out of Work Index: 70.69

Sadly, the bad news continues for Alabama; it's one of the States That Now Have the Worst COVID Outbreaks in the U.S.

15
Kansas

springtime view in downtown Topeka, Kansas, USA
iStock

Unemployment Rate: 6.9

Cost of Living Index: 89

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $488

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 16

Out of Work Index: 70.83

14
Alaska

Anchorage Skyline with a winter reflection
iStock

Unemployment Rate: 7.4

Cost of Living Index: 129.9

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $370

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 26

Out of Work Index: 72.85

Want to know another factor that makes Alaskan life hard? Check out The Most Dangerous State in the U.S.

13
New York

New York City Skyline on the East River with Brooklyn Bridge at sunset.
iStock

Unemployment Rate: 12.5

Cost of Living Index: 139.1

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $504

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 26

Out of Work Index: 76.67

12
Arizona

The skyline of Tucson, Arizona with cacti in the foreground
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Unemployment Rate: 5.7

Cost of Living Index: 97

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $240

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 26

Out of Work Index: 77.34

And for more up-to-date information on COVID, states' standings, and more, sign up for our daily newsletter.

11
South Carolina

Aerial view of Rainbow Row in downtown Charleston, SC
iStock

Unemployment Rate: 6.3

Cost of Living Index: 95.9

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $326

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 20

Out of Work Index: 79.17

10
Nevada

henderson nevada
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Unemployment Rate: 13.2

Cost of Living Index: 108.5

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $469

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 26

Out of Work Index: 79.74

9
Georgia

river in savannah georgia
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Unemployment Rate: 5.6

Cost of Living Index: 89.2

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $365

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 14

Out of Work Index: 82.34

8
California

A high angle view of San Francisco's business district on a sunny day.
iStock

Unemployment Rate: 11.4

Cost of Living Index: 151.7

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $450

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 26

Out of Work Index: 83.27

7
Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee
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Unemployment Rate: 8.5

Cost of Living Index: 88.7

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $275

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 26

Out of Work Index: 84.53

6
Michigan

detroit skyline
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Unemployment Rate: 8.7

Cost of Living Index: 88.9

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $362

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 20

Out of Work Index: 85.13

5
Louisiana

skyline of shreveport louisiana
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Unemployment Rate: 7.6

Cost of Living Index: 93.9

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $247

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 26

Out of Work Index: 85.62

4
Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi, USA cityscape at dusk.
iStock

Unemployment Rate: 7.9

Cost of Living Index: 86.1

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $235

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 26

Out of Work Index: 85.66

3
North Carolina

skyline of downtown charlotte north carolina
Shutterstock

Unemployment Rate: 6.5

Cost of Living Index: 94.9

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $350

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 12

Out of Work Index: 93.61

2
Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri
Shutterstock

Unemployment Rate: 7

Cost of Living Index: 87.1

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $320

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 13

Out of Work Index: 95.20

1
Florida

Florida, West Palm Beach,CR
iStock

Unemployment Rate: 7.4

Cost of Living Index: 97.9

Maximum Weekly Unemployment Benefits: $275

Maximum Number of Weeks for Unemployment Benefits: 12

Out of Work Index: 105.65

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