Pa. ranks 2nd most generous for unemployed


You may think that the high cost of living in New York or California would mean that those states are the most generous when it comes to calculating unemployment insurance.

You’d be wrong.

Matt Vasilogambros at the National Journal has crunched the numbers provided by the Department of Labor to show which states use the highest and lowest percentage of income to calculate unemployment benefits.

Vasilogambros points out that Rhode Island’s jobless rate, 9%, ties for the highest in the country. Hmmm.

Nevada is the other state at 9%; the national unemployment rate is officially 6.7%.

What’s interesting is that Pennsylvania is so generous even though the cost of living, especially in our region, is so low.

According to Money’s cost-of-living calculator, we’d be paying:

  • • 90% more for housing, 20% more for groceries and 35% more for heath care if we lived in Anchorage, whose state has the least generous benefits.
  • • 70% more for housing, 7% more for groceries, but 4% less for health care if we lived in Chicago. Illinois is the second stingiest.

His chart, as he notes, does not look at the average weekly benefit or the maximum benefit by state. If you use those numbers, Massachusetts looks the most bountiful, with an average benefit of $490 per week, and a max of $674. Pennsylvania has an average of $357 and a max of $573.

Here’s how much money the states are handing out in unemployment insurance:





The chart comes from a report by the Obama administration as it attempts to make the case to extend benefits for the long-term unemployed.