People wait in line to attend a job fair for military veterans and other unemployed people in Los Angeles, California, October 7, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS) (© Lucy Nicholson / Reuters)

The 5 best and worst states to be unemployed in

Michigan just slashed aid to the jobless. How does it compare to the rest of the country?


Peter FinocchiaroJustin Spees
March 30, 2011 4:30AM (UTC)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's state isn't the only one with labor pains. Michigan, for example, faces the longest ongoing stretch of double-digit unemployment in America. And the state's governor, Rick Snyde, has just signed a bill into law that slashes the total number of weeks the jobless can collect unemployment benefits from 26 to 20.

Since nearly every state has long offered 26 weeks of coverage, the move makes Michigan one of America's stingiest states when it comes to helping the unemployed. But when you look at the whole picture -- including the amount of money recipients are eligible for, which varies widely by state -- it isn't actually the stingiest. Several states offer far less to recipients than the $362 per week maximum that Michigan offers its laid-off workers. (Thus, an unemployed worker in Michigan receiving the top amount can collect a total of $7,240 over the 20 weeks of coverage that the state guarantees.)

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Here, then, is a list of the five least generous states in America when it comes to aiding the jobless:

1. Mississippi
Unemployment rate: 10.2 percent (42nd)
Maximum weekly benefit: $235
No. of weeks state pays for: 26
Total possible compensation: $6,110

2. Arizona
Unemployment rate: 9.6 percent (38th)
Maximum weekly benefit: $240
No. of weeks: 26
Total: $6,240

3. Louisiana
Unemployment rate: 7.9 (20th)
Maximum weekly benefit: $247
No. of weeks: 26
Total: $6,422

4. Alabama
Unemployment rate: 9.3 percent (33rd)
Maximum weekly benefit: $265
No. of weeks: 26
Total: $6,890

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5. Tennessee (tie)
Unemployment rate: 9.6 percent (38th)
Maximum weekly benefit: $275
No. of weeks: 26
Total: $7,150

5. Florida (tie)
Unemployment rate: 11.5 percent (49th)
Maximum weekly benefit: $275
No. of weeks: 26
Total: $7,150

Meanwhile, the top five states for unemployment benefits are:

1. Massachusetts
Unemployment rate: 8.2 percent (22nd )
Maximum weekly benefit: $625
No. of weeks state pays for: 26
Total possible compensation: $16,250

2. New Jersey
Unemployment rate: 9.2 percent (32nd)
Maximum weekly benefit: $598
No. of weeks: 26
Total: $15,548

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3. Minnesota
Unemployment rate: 6.7 percent (11th)
Maximum weekly benefit: $578
No. of weeks: 26
Total: $15,028

4. Pennsylvania
Unemployment rate: 8.0 percent (20th)
Maximum weekly benefit: $573
No. of weeks: 26
Total: $14,898

5. Washington
Unemployment rate: 9.1 (30th)
Maximum weekly benefit: $570
No. of weeks: 26
Total: $14,820

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Peter Finocchiaro

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Justin Spees

Justin Spees is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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