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15 States With the Best Unemployment Benefits in 2024

In this article, we will take a look at the 15 states with the best unemployment benefits in 2024. If you would like to skip our discussion on the US economy, you can go to the 5 States With the Best Unemployment Benefits in 2024.

The economic outlook for the United States remains uncertain, with the producer price index rising by 0.3% in January. This marked the most significant increase since August and was higher than the 0.1% forecast. Furthermore, the core producer price index, excluding food and energy, also experienced a higher-than-expected rise of 0.5%. While manufacturing activity, particularly in the production of high-tech goods like semiconductors, has seen a 23% YoY increase, economists at Morgan Stanley project a first-quarter GDP growth rate of 2%. However, they expect a decline in fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3.3% to 2.1%.

Consumer sentiments, reflected in the University of Michigan consumer survey, indicate a slight rise above January levels, suggesting confidence in the economy. This sentiment persists despite the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all items showing an increase for the 12 months ending January. The core CPI, excluding the food and energy components, experienced a 0.4% rise in January, keeping its year-over-year increase at 3.9%, consistent with the figures from December.

The forecast had predicted a 0.3% and a 3.7% rise, respectively. Shelter costs, representing roughly one-third of the CPI calculation, were a significant driver of the overall increase. The index for the shelter category increased by 0.6% for the month. On an annual basis, shelter costs saw a 6% increase. Similarly, the food index observed a 2.6% YoY increase in January, with month-on-month values rising by 0.4%. While the annual inflation rate is above the 2% benchmark set by the Federal Reserve, the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) showed a 2.9% YoY growth in December.

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There is an expectation that a potential recession might be deeper and stronger than initially forecasted, particularly with slowing wage growth rates. Keeping these circumstances in mind, there is increased focus on unemployment statistics, as individuals may suffer if employment lags. There are varying levels of concern amongst the states depending on the unemployment rates in different regions. In January, the unemployment rate in the US remained steady at 3.7% for the third consecutive month, with little change in the number of unemployed people, standing at 6.1 million. States with the lowest unemployment rates, such as Maryland and North Dakota, may be less worried, while states with the highest unemployment rates, like Nevada and the District of Columbia, are likely to experience a more significant impact. Major corporations such as NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and  Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) have a key role to play in providing employment to a considerable number of people in the US. Interestingly, the technology sector made up 40% of the companies on the list of the best employers in 2023; in fact, six of the top ten employers were IT companies, highlighting the sector's leadership in offering attractive work environments.

Here's what Madison Investments said about Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) in its Q4 2023 investor letter:

“Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) was positive during the quarter but had a more modest gain in the fourth quarter following a strong third quarter and as a result, lagged the Technology sector more broadly. Alphabet’s third quarter included solid Search and You Tube results while Cloud growth was a bit softer, growing at 22% year-over-year. Google continues to incorporate AI in its core search businesses. It has been rolled out to a wide number of users across multiple geographies. We will continue to watch how Google adapts AI in its businesses and monitor cloud growth.”

15 States With the Best Unemployment Benefits in 2024
15 States With the Best Unemployment Benefits in 2024

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Our Methodology 

To shortlist the 15 states with the best unemployment benefits in 2024, we made use of three weighted metrics, namely the cost of living index (weight of 0.3), the average weekly benefit weight of 0.4), and the number of weeks these benefits extend (weight of 0.3). We then ranked the best states for unemployment benefits on all three of these metrics. We then calculated a weighted average of states' rankings on these three metrics and adjusted the final rankings based on the weighted-average rankings. The states with the best unemployment benefits in 2024 have been ranked in descending order of rankings.

By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a consensus approach, we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). Whether you are a beginner investor or professional one looking for the best stocks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders.

15 States With the Best Unemployment Benefits in 2024

15. Colorado

Colorado provides unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks as mandated by the law. Individuals eligible for unemployment benefits in Colorado can receive a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $781. These amounts are determined by calculating either 60% of weekly earnings in two quarters or 50% of the average weekly earnings for the past year. Individuals earning additional income while on unemployment benefits will experience a reduction of 25% from their weekly benefits.

14. Ohio

In Ohio, unemployment benefits are set at 50% of your average weekly wage of the base period. The minimum weekly benefit stands at $157, and for individuals with dependents, there's a potential for a maximum benefit payment of $757. These benefits are payable for a maximum period of 26 weeks. The cost of living in Ohio is 6% below the national average.

13. Montana

In Montana, eligibility for unemployment benefits is determined based on a weekly benefit rate calculated as either 1% of total wages during the base period or 1.9% of wages earned in the two quarters with the highest earnings. The maximum weekly benefit amount stands at $552, with a minimum of $163. The state's annual GDP is reported at $68 billion as of Q3 2023, and it has a population of 1.12 million. Furthermore, Montana provides unemployment benefits for up to 28 weeks, which is among the longest durations in the United States.

12. New Mexico

In the third quarter of 2023, the state of New Mexico reported an annual gross domestic product (GDP) of $130.3 billion. The cost of living in New Mexico is 6% below the national average. Unemployment benefits in the state are set at 53.5% of the average weekly wage in the highest-paid quarter of the base period, with a minimum weekly benefit of $86 and a maximum weekly benefit of $511. Eligible individuals can receive benefits for up to 26 weeks. Additionally, those with dependent children under 18 receive a $25 allowance per child for up to two kids. However, the dependent allowance cannot exceed 50% of the weekly allowance.

11. New Jersey

New Jersey has a cost-of-living index of 114.1, which is higher than the national cost of living. The state provides unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. The calculation for these benefits is straightforward, equating to 60% of the average weekly wages in the base period. In New Jersey, the weekly benefit amount ranges from a minimum of $120 to a maximum of $830. As of the third quarter of 2023, New Jersey's GDP amounted to $810.1 billion in goods and services annually.

10. Minnesota

Minnesota, with a cost-of-living index of 94.1, provides unemployment benefits for a maximum duration of 26 weeks. The benefit amount is determined as the higher value between 50% of the highest quarter earnings in the base period divided by 13 or 50% of the average weekly earnings in the base period. In Minnesota, the weekly unemployment benefit amount ranges from a minimum of $28 to a maximum of $890. The state recorded an annual GDP of $446 billion as of Q3 2023.

9. Utah

The state of Utah provides unemployment benefits for a duration of 26 weeks, with an average benefit value of $391. Utah's cost of living index is 101.5, slightly above the national average. The state recorded an annual real GDP of $270.6 billion as of Q3 2023 and is home to a population of 3.38 million. Utah is at the eighth position on our list of the states with the best unemployment benefits in 2024.

8. Washington

Washington state, with a cost-of-living index of 115.10, provides unemployment benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks. The benefit amount is calculated at 3.85% of the average of the highest two-quarter earnings in the base period. Individuals in Washington can receive a weekly unemployment benefit ranging from a minimum of $323 to a maximum of $1,019. If individuals are earning additional income while receiving unemployment benefits, they will experience a reduction of 1/4th of their unemployment benefits.

7. Iowa

In Iowa, the cost of living is 10% below the national average. For unemployed individuals, the weekly benefit amounts range from a minimum of $72 to a maximum of $714. The maximum duration for the unemployment period in the state is set at 16 weeks. Iowa's annual GDP stands at $231 billion as of Q3 2023.

6. Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, the maximum weekly unemployment benefit is capped at $539, and individuals with dependents may qualify for a higher benefit payment of $707. These benefits are payable for a maximum duration of 26 weeks. With an annual GDP of $241 billion as of Q3 2023 and a population of 4.02 million, Oklahoma sets specific requirements for eligibility. To qualify for unemployment benefits, individuals must provide evidence of active job searching, engaging in a minimum of two job-seeking activities per week, as mandated by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

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Disclosure: None. 15 States With the Best Unemployment Benefits in 2024 is published on Insider Monkey.