Key takeaway: In most states, unemployed workers received an average unemployment insurance (UI) benefit of under $100/week.

The original analysis can be found here.

The Department of Labor (DOL) released its state-level unemployment insurance data collection for the second quarter of 2022. It includes information for each state on:

  1. The percent of unemployed workers receiving UI benefits.
  2. The average benefit sizes for UI recipients.

The figure below uses this data to show the generosity of every state UI program between April and June. The blue lines represent the average weekly benefit amounts for UI recipients. In contrast, the yellow lines represent the average weekly benefit amounts for all unemployed workers (both UI recipients and unemployed non-recipients).

Unemployed workers in most states can expect substantially lower support than the average weekly benefit levels shown by the DOL, mainly because few receive any payments. Many unemployed workers miss out on UI benefits by design. Strict rules often limit program eligibility, while administrative burdens make it harder for eligible people to navigate the system, causing many to give up on applying altogether. Individuals might not even realize they qualify and aren’t informed otherwise.

In every state, UI recipients received an average benefit of at least $200/week. In contrast, unemployed workers in only three states had average benefits of over $200/week. Thirty-eight states had average benefit sizes under $100/week when including non-recipients in the calculations (note: it is 37 when rounding to the nearest dollar). New Jersey and Minnesota were the only states where the average benefit size for all unemployed workers kept individuals above the poverty line. In addition, New Jersey and Minnesota were the only two states where the median UI benefit was greater than $0 for all unemployed workers.

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