Job losses are mounting in states around the nation. The economy has shed 1.9 million jobs over the past four months—the largest four-month loss in over three decades—and the unemployment rate has spiked to 7.2 percent. What’s more, December’s unemployment rate was above 7 percent in 21 out of 50 states and in the District of Columbia, as shown in the map below.
Michigan now has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 10.6 percent, followed by Rhode Island at 10 percent. South Carolina and California also have particularly high unemployment rates of 9.5 percent and 9.3 percent respectively. And 22 states have lost at least 2 percent of their total jobs since their employment level peaked in 2007 or 2008, during the height of the economic recovery of the 2000s.
High unemployment has led to sustained high numbers of applicants for unemployment benefits. The four-week moving average—the weekly average number of new applicants for unemployment benefits over the previous four weeks—was 519,250 last week and continues to be at highs not seen since the recession in the early 1980s. Many unemployed workers are finding that getting a new job is increasingly difficult. Nearly one in four unemployed workers (23.2 percent) have been out of work and searching for a job for at least six months, up from less than one in five (17.3 percent) a year ago. And more than 3 million workers over the past year ran out of unemployment benefits before they found a new job.
Congress extended the duration of unemployment benefits in June and then again in November to address the severity of the problem. But they have yet to pass the Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act, or UIMA, which would increase the number of workers—especially low-wage workers—eligible for benefits by at least 500,000. Sixty percent of workers unemployed over the past 12 months have not received any unemployment benefits. But that may change as Congress is taking up the components of the UIMA this week as part of the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
For more information on the percentage of workers not getting benefits now, and on UIMA, see the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Half in Ten report, “Helping the Jobless Helps Us All.”
See what CAP has to say about an economic stimulus:
Interactive maps: Recovery Beyond the Beltway