Here Are the 6 Best & Worst States to Be Unemployed

By Leah Thomas

While the national unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in May — the lowest it’s been in 17 years — those 3.8 percent may have greater difficulty being unemployed and searching for a new job in certain states.

A new report found that Missouri, Alaska and North Carolina are the toughest states to be in while trying to reenter the workforce. 

The report by GOBankingRates listed the worst to best states for the unemployed searching for a new job based on the state’s unemployment rate, its employment growth rate and the amount of time residents in that state are able to collect unemployment insurance while searching for a job.

We've outlined the top three worst states in which to be unemployed and the top three best states below.

Worst states to be unemployed

1. Missouri

With an unemployment rate of 3.6 percent, Missouri is the toughest state in which to be unemployed. And their employment growth is at an extreme low: negative 0.38 percent — the eighth-lowest employment growth rate in the country.

The state also only gives unemployed residents 13 weeks of unemployment insurance, which is half the amount of time the majority of states offer.

Missouri isn’t all that bad, though — its median home price is a low $170,000, meaning residents can own a home for less than $1,000 a month according to another GOBankingRates study.

2. Alaska

At 7.3 percent, Alaska’s unemployment rate is the highest in the country. However, its employment growth is a little more promising than Missouri’s at negative 0.02 percent.

While it ranks as the second-worst state to be unemployed, living in the northern state does have its perks: It’s one of only seven states with no income tax. 

3. North Carolina

The Tar Heel State has an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent as well as a more optimistic employment growth than its predecessors: 1.21. 

North Carolina also offers residents a low 12 weeks of unemployment insurance, and its median home price is higher than the national average at $259,000. But the state is the only one out of the top three worst states for the unemployed that didn’t experience a decrease in employment growth over the past year.

Regarding Missouri and Alaska's decrease in employment growth this past year, a GOBankingRates representative said, “State regulations that would provide more weeks of unemployment insurance would help these states rank higher, but because the job market isn’t as strong in these states as it is out west, the improvement process would take a longer time unless an influx of job openings began occurring.”

The personal finance site ended the list with the best states in which to be unemployed. Colorado, Utah and Massachusetts took the top spots (in that order).

And there’s a reason the top two spots went to Western states according to the GoBankingRates representative.

“Several Western states have seen significant civilian labor force growth between April 2017 and April 2018, and this is due to several startups moving out west along with a strong job market hiring at record rates. This, combined with labor force unemployment rates being among the lowest in the U.S., results in western states ranking so well.”

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Best states to be unemployed

1. Colorado

Colorado holds the title of having the highest employment growth rate in the country at 3.14 percent. And the Rocky Mountain State has the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in America at 2.9 percent.

2. Utah

Utah features the sixth-lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.1 percent as well as the fifth-highest employment growth rate at 2.21 percent.

Salt Lake City was even recently named the best city for college grads to begin their careers in 2018 by the site WalletHub.

3. Massachusetts

Massachusetts has an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent and an employment growth of 1.25 percent.

More: 5 Incredibly Inspirational People Who Prove Hard Work Pays Off

The state also gives its residents 30 full weeks of unemployment insurance, the longest of any other state in the country.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards and career advice.

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